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Ex-veep near deal for Viv U’s Newsworld Intl.

Gore close to pact, but buy may still hit snag

NEW YORK — Al Gore may not have won the presidency — but he’s making a heck of a first run for the post of media mogul.

It appears that at long last, Gore is near closing a deal to buy Vivendi Universal’s cable network Newsworld International for about $70 million (DailyVariety, Nov.17).

Talks have been on and off for nearly a year, but a final agreement is imminent, according to a report in today’s New York Observer. Still, insiders warned late Tuesday that the price is fluid and the pact may still hit snags.

A U spokeswoman declined to comment.

The network was not part of the Vivendi Universal Entertainment group of assets that the French conglom agreed to sell to General Electric-NBC last year. That merger is slated to close later this year.

News of the impending cable deal comes just as Gore’s liberal radio network “Air America Radio” was scheduled to start airing on four radio stations — in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco — today. Al Franken will host a segment called “The O’Franken Factor.” Janeane Garafolo, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and rapper Chuck D also have shows.

Gore’s push to buy the Viv U cable channel was widely described as an attempt to create a balance to the wildly popular and unabashedly conservative Fox News network. People close to Gore took pains to deny that characterization, describing the net more as a youth-oriented news and public service channel.

Newsworld International is a 24-hour channel with news broadcasts and special reports from around the world. The net, along with Trio, was sold to USA Cable by the Canadian Broadcast Corp. in May of 2000.

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