The rumor mill on both coasts was working overtime last week about a number of bidders readying offers for CBS.
At the top of the list is Barry Diller, who almost a year ago as chairman of QVC made an unsuccessful bid for the Eye web. According to industry sources, Diller has put together a group of backers, hoping to make a deal for CBS before someone else makes a move on the network. Earlier in the year, Diller showed interest, but balked at CBS chairman Larry Tisch’s hefty $5 billion price tag. Is the exhome shopping potentate now willing to pay retail?
Meanwhile, with Seagram’s acquisition of MCA all but complete and Creative Artists Agency topper Mike Ovitz expected to take charge of the studio, speculation has surfaced that when new management is ensconced, it will set its sights on CBS. One scenario would have Tele-TV, the CAA-engineered programming consortium of Bell Atlantic, Pacific Telesis and Nynex, joint-ventured with MCA in a bid for Black Rock. Another puts Diller at any MCA/Tele-TV/CBS party.
On Wall Street, some traders added perennial CBS suitor Ted Turner to the mix, suggesting he was once again prepping a bid that could be made as early as this week. However, CBS stock closed down 62.5¢s; to $65.75. suggesting even the Street is weary of the constant speculation.
While it’s certain the ongoing CBS-for-sale drama is like the story of the little boy who cried wolf, let’s not forget that the wolf eventually showed up for supper.