Now Here's The News
Turner Broadcasting System's over-the-counter stock opened at $25 a share yesterday after closing Tuesday at $17 . . . in the aftermath of a Wednesday morning report in the Atlanta Constitution that TBS owner Ted Turner was talking to CBS Inc. about a possible merger. . .
After a very active trading day, TBS closed at $21.50. . .
Our sources say that Turner has been in New York for more than a week and has conferred, not only with CBS Inc. president Tom Wyman, but ABC Inc. chairman Leonard Goldenson, as well as officials of Time Inc. (owners of Home Box Office), the Gannett communications conglomerate, Western Union . . . and, perhaps most significantly, with John Kluge, founder of Metromedia, the broadcast group the industry speculates has ambitions to become a fourth network. . .
On Tuesday, at his request, Turner also talked with NBC president Bob Mulholland, according to a network spokesman. . .
Our sources say that Turner is seeking a merger of TBS and would want to assume a vice-chairmanship in a reorganized company. . .
Turner owns 87 percent of TBS stock. . .
Turner reportedly has put his entire empire into the pot, including baseball's Atlanta Braves and the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, as well as TBS, which includes his Atlanta "superstation," Channel 17, Cable News Network and CNN Headline News. . .
It is those last cable properties, with facilities and satellite availability already in place, that may be interesting Metromedia. . .
As for the Turner conversation with Wyman, which took place last Thursday . . . William Lilley III, vice president for corporate affairs of CBS Inc., would only say yesterday that "we have had conversations with Mr. Turner. Those conversations were initiated by Mr. Turner. We have no plans to start negotiations". . .
Lilley would not confirm a report from other sources at CBS that the Wyman-Turner talk never got down to specifics, such as a sales price . . . while sources at both ABC and NBC also indicate little of substance was discussed in the recent conversations, all initiated by Turner. . .
Yesterday's story in the Constitution said Turner's associates describe him as being "increasingly restless personally". . .
But industry sources have suggested for some time that only Channel 17 has been a profit center for the Atlanta entrepreneur in recent years. . .
About a year ago, Turner told a National Press Club audience here that CBS had made overtures to buy his cable interests . . . but at that time CBS said it had been the other way around and expressed no interest in a deal. . .
(For further details, see The Post's financial section). . .
The Turner moves come as RCA Cable Inc. and Rockefeller Center Cable Inc. announced that their up-scale, 24-hour pay cable service, The Entertainment Channel, will fold at the end of March after nine months in operation during which losses reportedly amounted to $34 million. . .
A lack of subscribers and a poor economy were blamed. . . Moving Right Along
NBC announced yesterday that Ann Berk, who has been station manager of Channel 4 here for the past three years, has been promoted to vice president, advertising, promotion and press for the network's owned-and-operated TV station division. . .
And at Channel 7, director of broadcast operations Jim Griffin has been upped to vice president . . . as has director of sales John Long. . .
NBC won a rare Monday night Monday night over ABC and CBS . . . thanks to a good performance by the final two hours of "Rage of Angels," which attracted a 33 percent audience share nationally, according to A.C. Nielsen. . .
"Grace Kelly," on ABC, had a 29 share twixt 9 and 11 that same evening. . .
Both programs built audiences after the final regular episode of "M*A*S*H" on CBS at 9 had carved a Top Ten-worthy 32 share out of their first half hours. . .
Both the Public Employees Department of the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees have complained to CBS News regarding what AFGE calls a "cheap shot" at federal workers in a segment of the Friday, Feb. 11, "CBS Evening News" about the blizzard here that day. . .
Joking about the traffic problems, correspondent Bob Simon had suggested that government workers in Washington customarily leave work by noon on Fridays. . .
In a letter, the AFL-CIO's John Leyden asked for a retraction on the grounds that "this kind of slanted journalism does great harm to the image and morale of America's largest single work force, and it lends credence to the myth of the civil servant as slouch". . .
A spokesman for the CBS News bureau here, whence the segment emanated that blustery day, said it "was meant to be a light-hearted story . . . if it was misunderstood, we regret it". . .
Longtime WTTG weekend anchor Barton Eckert, dropped by the station last Friday, said yesterday he doesn't want to talk "sour grapes" about his sudden departure. . .
Eckert said he has already begun talks with other local stations and hopes to remain in the Washington area. . .
Eckert had worked for Metromedia for 15 years, including a stint in Philadelphia before service in Vietnam . . . He joined WASH radio here in 1971 and moved to WTTG-TV the next year. . .
Like all Channel 5 talents, he had been working without a contract for the past 18 months and wasn't totally surprised when the announcement was posted on a WTTG bulletin board shortly after Christmas that a new weekend anchor, Morris Jones, had been signed. . .
"I just waited them out," Eckert said yesterday. "There was no hassle over the severance". . .
Eckert is proud that his weekend newscast consistently outdrew evening newscasts on the local affiliates during his five years as anchor. . .
From Our Do You Know Me? File: The ABC News bureau here announces the promotion of off-air reporter Sheilah Kast to general assignment correspondent. . .
Before joining ABC in October 1981, Kast had been a financial reporter for The Washington Star. . .
As promised, a couple of more highlights from last week's primetime Nielsen list, which disclosed these further shoo-ins for a niche in Video's Valhalla:
ABC's "Dom DeLuise and Friends" was 23rd; CBS' reverential bow to the Lenten season, "Dixie: Changing Habits," was 29th; and ABC's new "Condo" finished 30th. . .
The TV debut of "Star Trek: The Movie," on ABC, tied for 37th; that network's new "Amanda's" tied for 40th; and NBC's new "Bare Essence" tied for 55th . . . as CBS easily won the week over ABC and NBC. . .