TBS affils fight Rakuten stake

Group says move will have negative impact

Twenty-seven affiliates of the TBS network expressed opposition to Internet mall Rakuten’s plan to acquire a 20% stake in the broadcaster.

At A press conference on Tuesday, prexies from four major affiliates –Hokkaido Broadcasting (in Sapporo), Chubu Nihon Broadcasting (Nagoya), Mainichi Broadcasting (Osaka) and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting (Fukuoka) spoke as reps for all 27, saying that if Rakuten’s drive to gain a greater voice in TBS’ corporate governance succeeds, it will have a negative impact on the net’s objectivity and its public service character.

In a related development, TBS sent its third questionnaire to Rakuten on Monday, saying the company’s answers to its second set of questions were inadequate. Once TBS gets Rakuten’s replies, it intends to hold an emergency board meeting to discuss them and, possibly as early as next week, ask a third-party panel whether, based on Rakuten’s replies, it should trigger antitakeover measures.

TBS is trying to suss out whether Rakuten will stop its stock buying at 20% or mount a full-fledged takeover attempt.

TBS and Rakuten have been at loggerheads ever since Rakuten snapped up a 19% share of TBS in fall 2005 and demanded the web enter partnership talks. TBS responded that it would sit at the table only if Rakuten first unloads its TBS shares, a demand Rakuten repeatedly rejected.

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