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Malone likes Ted’s HSN plans

If Turner Broadcasting chairman Ted Turner wants to buy the Home Shopping Network, he has the blessing of Tele-Communications Inc. chairman John Malone.The TCI head is a key backer for a potential Turner purchase.

“It’s up to Ted,” Malone told Daily Variety Monday, “But as a member of both boards, I’d support it.”

Turner has met with HSN honchos about acquiring the home-shopping cable web, according to industry sources (Variety, March 28). The proposed acquisition is expected to be brought to the table when Turner’s board meets this week in Atlanta.

Malone would be key to a Turner acquisition of HSN. TCI owns a 22.3% stake in Turner, and Malone sits on the company’s board. Moreover, Malone is also chairman of Liberty Media, which owns a 41.5% stake in HSN as well as a 28.2% stake in QVC. Malone has wanted to merge the two home-shopping entities, but attempts to do so have faced regulatory roadblocks.

Malone, along with News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, was in New York to introduce Turner at the Center for Communications luncheon at the Plaza Hotel, where the Turner Broadcasting chairman was receiving the organization’s Communications Award (see story, this page).

In a press conference preceding the event, Turner was queried on a potential acquisition of HSN. “I can’t talk about that,” he said.

Sources inside Turner Broadcasting say an HSN acquisition is under consideration, but that any move may be on hold for the near future because the downswing in the market has depressed the value of Turner stock.

The company’s stock, which was valued at $ 22.25 when word of Turner’s interest surfaced March 28, has dropped to $ 19.75, more than a 10% drop. Stock price is crucial, since an HSN acquisition would probably be some sort of stock swap. The stock is down from a 12-month high of $ 29.75.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the deal won’t eventually happen. Turner has close ties to the company — HSN chairman Gerald Hogan spent 19 year as one of Turner’s top lieutenants.

In addition, there are the 12 UHF stations operated as HSN affiliates by Silver King Communications, a spinoff of HSN, which could provide the base for a Turner broadcast network.

But Turner insiders say the prime interest is in grafting HSN’s back-office fulfillment services.

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