Time Warner may be courting Court TV

Buyout could cost $1 billion

NEW YORK — The eagerness of Court TV to share the services of Nancy Grace, one of its top anchors, with CNN Headline News has reignited reports that Time Warner will take sole ownership of Court TV.

Rumors have surfaced occasionally over the last three years that Time Warner would buy out the 50% of Court TV owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media. That 50% could cost Time Warner as much as $1 billion. Henry Schleiff, chairman and CEO of Court TV, declined to comment on the reports.

But Schleiff acknowledged that he’s cheerleading for the cross-promotion that Court TV will harvest from the higher visibility Grace will achieve as host of a new primetime series on CNN Headline News (also owned by TW) while she continues hosting Court’s daily “Closing Arguments” from 3-5 p.m. Headline News will officially announce the signing of Grace at a Los Angeles critics-tour press conference later this week.

On top of the Headline News deal, Grace has signed a multiyear extension of her Court TV contract. Extension contains a new clause specifying that, for the first time, Grace can appear in up to 40 primetime specials every year, many of them tied to ongoing murder trials such as those of Robert Blake and Phil Spector.

Schleiff pointed to Grace’s frequent appearances as guest host on “Larry King Live” and said CNN and Headline News are eager to use more Court TV on-air experts for their coverage of legal issues.

“We plan to work hand-in-glove with CNN,” said Schleiff. “That strategy would just enhance the importance of the Court TV brand.”