Several broadcasting companies have expressed interest in buying radio or television stations Capital Cities Communications will have to spin off to complete the $3.5 billion friendly takeover of American Broadcasting Cos.
Capital Cities Communications Chairman Thomas S. Murphy said earlier this week that the company would sell its Buffalo and New Haven television stations to satisfy Federal Communications Commission media cross-ownership restrictions unless the agency grants the company a waiver.
More television stations might be sold to bring the combined percentage of the national audience the two media giants reach down to 25 percent from 28 percent. Some or all the company's 50 cable television and up to 17 radio stations may also have to be sold by the company to satisfy federal requirements.
At least three companies -- Outlet Communications Inc., Cox Communications Corp. and Doubleday Broadcast Co. Inc. -- have expressed an interest in some of the properties so far. Media analysts have said as much as $750 million worth of assets may have to be divested to complete the deal.
"We're interested in both the TV and radio stations; we'd take 'em all," said Bruce Sundlun, chairman of Outlet Communications Inc., a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Group. "I have written Murphy about my interest."
Sundlun said his company is free to acquire five more television stations and 19 radio stations under FCC rules. "We want to acquire everything that Mr. Murphy has for sale," said Sundlun. "We'll go through the trouble of selling off anything that doesn't fit."
Cox Communications Corp. is interested in a package of radio and/or television stations, said Michael Klievman, senior executive vice president. "Almost all of the ABC stations have to be sold and all of the radio stations," he said. "The chances of them packaging it are pretty good and we are looking at every combination possible."
Gary Stevens, president of Doubleday Broadcasting Co. Inc., told Capital Cities he'd like one ABC FM radio station. "Any way you cut it this will have the most profound effect on the ownership structure of radio properties that I have ever witnessed in this business," Stevens said. "It may presage the beginning of a whole new company or it might make some smaller companies big players or make big companies bigger."