Thought this was interesting. We shall see...
TV's Byron Allen Bids $2.2 Bln for Paxson
Tue Apr 5, 6:34 PM ET Entertainment - Reuters Industry
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Television executive Byron Allen said his Entertainment Studios Corp aims to acquire struggling Paxson Communications Corp for $2.2 billion in cash and retool Paxson's TV network for black audiences.
Allen, widely remembered as the star of 1980s TV show "Real People," told Reuters he is working with investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston and several undisclosed private equity firms to establish financing, but no company had yet committed to an offer.
"This is an asset (Paxson) that has a great deal of unleashed potential," he said. "The goal is to take one of the largest groups of television stations and turn it toward African Americans."
He said it was "hard to say" when a formal bid might be made and declined to comment further on possible timing.
"It's something that we definitely are aggressively pursuing," Allen said. "It would be history for a group of broadcast TV stations to be dedicated to African Americans.
If successful, the major competition would be cable TV network BET, which is owned by Viacom Inc, but Allen said he felt there was more than enough room for two networks aimed at black Americans.
"No one network can speak to any one group of people," he said.
He said an offer would be "all cash," with roughly $2 billion used to pay off Paxson senior debt and preferred stock and the remaining $200 million for equity holders.
Allen is perhaps best known for his work on "Real People" because it was so widely-watched, but he has transformed his celebrity into success as a TV executive.
Entertainment Studios produces 15 shows that are syndicated to local stations around the United States. Its flagship, "Entertainers with Byron Allen" which profiles celebrities, reaches more than 92 percent of U.S. homes.
Other shows it makes include "The American Athlete," 'Kickin' It with Byron Allen" and "Recipe TV Featuring the World's Greatest Chefs."
Paxson operates a network of 60 broadcast TV stations that reach nearly 90 percent of all U.S. households, and counts General Electric-owned NBC Universal, which operates the NBC television network, as one of its major investors.
But it has struggled over the years to gain market share from its competitors with its slate of mostly family-oriented programing