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Turner must giveth if he taketh HSN

If Ted Turner is serious about acquiring the Home Shopping Network and the 11 UHF TV stations HSN owns through its Silver King Communications subsidiary, he will have to restructure Turner Broadcasting Systems Corp.

Turner’s ultimate plan may be to build a new network, but he won’t be able to do it without parting with some of his beloved and highly valuable cable assets.

That’s because Turner’s two largest shareholders in TBS — cable giants Time Warner and Tele-Communications Inc. — would have to divest if Turner’s HSN-Silver King acquisition is to get FCC approval. Both TCI and Time Warner own cable systems where Silver King owns TV stations, which is against Federal Communications Commission rules.

Even if Turner buys HSN on his own, his affiliation with Time Warner and TCI would likely prohibit his acquiring the TV stations, said one FCC official.

But TCI and Time Warner won’t leave Turner empty-handed. Time Warner has expressed interest in Turner’s CNN network and Cartoon Network. TCI would probably also be happy to leave with some of Turner’s cable webs in hand.

Turner has said before that he is willing to even take a minority interest in his company to get into the broadcast network business.

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