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Inside Move: CNN mulling merger

Execs consider revival of ABC talks

CNN execs will decide by the end of March whether to revive merger talks with ABC, Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner said Saturday.

After the talks heated up last fall, AOL Time Warner execs decided to break from discussions in November to focus on more pressing issues, such as the numerous internal fires raging within the conglom. But Kellner said he and AOL Time Warner execs will now refocus on the idea no later than the end of the current fiscal quarter.

“Our company will decide what to do by then,” he said. “If they think it’s a good idea, we’ll re-energize the talks with ABC.”

Speaking with scribes during a break in the WB’s formal presentations to reporters at the winter TV Critics Assn. press tour, Kellner also said he could easily see repeats of HBO’s soon-to-conclude “Sex and the City” ending up on a Turner cabler like TBS Superstation — or another basic cabler — despite the show’s racy content. HBO execs have said they’re looking at the possibility of off-net runs of shows like “Sex” and “The Sopranos.”

Kellner also likes the idea of releasing full-season DVDs of skeins before they hit syndication and indicated that Warner Bros. TV and Tollin-Robbins Prods. could release hit WB drama “Smallville” on DVD next year. Exec also said TNT would be back in the original drama business, with a firstrun series a real likelihood within the next 18 months.

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