Peacock Swaggers For Multimedia

NBC may be the most serious bidder for Multimedia when Goldman Sachs starts serious negotiations for the company, which put itself on the block last month.

The Peacock web’s top priority are the five Multimedia stations, which could go for more than $550 million. Of the five stations, four are NBC affiliates – WKYC Cleveland (in which NBC has a 49% stake), KSDK St. Louis, WLWT Cincinnati and WBIR Knoxville, Tenn. WMAZ Macon, Ga., is a CBS affiliate.

The fact that four of the stations are NBC affils may give NBC a leg up in negotiations against other bidders. NBC has the right to terminate its affiliation agreements upon an ownership change that could hurt the value of the stations.

NBC also is interested in Multimedia Entertainment, which includes its syndie division and the new All-Talk cable network.

If NBC is successful, it probably would fold the All-Talk channel into its two networks – CNBC and America’s Talking.

Also said to be interested in just the entertainment division – which includes talkers “Sally Jessy Raphael,” “Jerry Springer” and “Rush Limbaugh” – is Multimedia Entertainment prexy Robert Turner and Multimedia star talkshow host Phil Donahue. The two are said to be contemplating a bid for the entertainment division in hopes of taking it private.

The division has been valued at $300 million to $400 million but that price may come down. Also, it would be unlikely that Turner and Donahue would want to be saddled with the huge startup losses associated with the cable network, which could approach at least $100 million.

Multimedia has said it would like to sell the entire company and not break it apart; that might hurt a Donahue/Turner bid.

Other bidders for the stations include the New York Times Co., which recently purchased a station in Norfolk, Va., and the Providence Journal Co., which owns several TV stations.

Other possible bidders on Multimedia include Cox Enterprises, the Tribune Co., Gannett, Belo and E.W. Scripps.

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