Davis: Par courted NBC

NEW YORK — Paramount Communications chief exec Martin S. Davis is quoted in February’s Vanity Fair as saying that he negotiated with General Electric Co. off and on for more than two years on a plan for Paramount to buy a majority stake in NBC and turn it into the Paramount Broadcasting System.

Davis talked with GE chairman and chief exec John Welch from August 1990 through 1992, the magazine reported.

The deal fell apart because of lack of regulatory approval for the transfer of certain NBC stations to Paramount, Vanity Fair said.

“That’s one Welch will go off the wall on, because he’s never disclosed it,” Davis was quoted as saying. “This was real. We had a deal. It blew apart at the eleventh hour — at five minutes till midnight — over one thing.”

Welch wanted Davis to proceed with the deal, but Davis said that would have risked bankruptcy, the magazine reported.

Spokesmen for Paramount and GE told Reuters their companies had no comment.

The magazine said Davis envisioned transforming NBC into an international news-and-entertainment system that would dwarf Turner Broadcasting System’s CNN, broadcasting via satellite to affiliates Davis had lined up in Western Europe and the Middle East.

If the deal had gone through, NBC would have been renamed the Paramount Broadcasting System, the magazine said.

It said NBC president Robert Wright was not told of the talks until after the deal fell through.

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