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Thought this was interesting. We shall see...
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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.


Reuters Photo



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
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I am having a hard time believing that Byron Allen has a pot to piss in, much less access to $2 Billion in cash. Why hasn't his company been a major corporate donor previously? A Black man is in charge of a $2 Billion company and it hasn't received any big press before this?

In any event, I don't really know that he would be any improvement from what is currently out there. His only real skill is kissing celebrity ass like a drooling fangirl. Though, if he brings in the right people to help him, it could be alright.
quote:
Originally posted by Frenchy:
I am having a hard time believing that Byron Allen has a pot to piss in, much less access to $2 Billion in cash. Why hasn't his company been a major corporate donor previously? A Black man is in charge of a $2 Billion company and it hasn't received any big press before this?

In any event, I don't really know that he would be any improvement from what is currently out there. His only real skill is kissing celebrity ass like a drooling fangirl. Though, if he brings in the right people to help him, it could be alright.


I agree with you on 'ka' part; but I'm going to have to go with the wait and see paradigm on this on. As to his 'fangirl' antics, I was watching Howard Stern one evening, (something I rarely do), and all of these blond bimbo types, were sitting there with their tops off; anyway, all of them, were complaining about Byron Allen, and how he was known for harrassing all of the white 'bimbo' type actresses around Hollywood; that he had a reputation for that. They also mentioned, how he had no problem with making a complete fool of himself over any of them. Howard was loving it.
I'm not surprised. I am surprised that Byron wasn't bumrushing the studio doors or ringing down the phone line trying to get in on some of that Blonde topless action.

The Palm Beach post has a more in-depth article on his business proposition. It looks like he is still trying to get this $2.2 Billion in cash from a bank. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe some ultra-conservative corporation has paid off Byron to release his bogus statement as a way of distracting everyone from what's really going down. Sort of like everyone being focused on Byron while Clear Channel swoops in and seals the deal. Anyhow, here is the Palm Beach Post article:


TV personality sets sights on pursuing Paxson bid
By Stephanie Horvath
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The news on Wednesday that a television personality was trying to raise $2.2 billion to buy Paxson Communications Corp. sent the West Palm Beach company's stock soaring.

It also left a lot of people scratching their heads and asking if Byron Allen, a businessman and former host of a forgettable 1980s television show called Real People, was a viable buyer for the ailing broadcast firm. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that sources close to the situation said Allen wasn't considered a serious bidder.

Allen brushed off the comments, saying he's used to being doubted. In 1993, when he started Entertainment Studios, his television production and syndication company in Los Angeles, he said few people thought it would sell its first show. Twelve years later, it produces 15 shows and has never canceled one.

"All my career, people have doubted me," Allen told The Palm Beach Post Friday. "I don't go by what others think or say."

Allen is trying to raise $2.2 billion from Credit Suisse First Boston and several unnamed private equity firms to buy Paxson. If he's successful, he wants to turn it into an urban network with strong sitcoms, movies and dramas that will draw viewers away from UPN and the WB.

"Urban is something that's more encompassing than just black," he said. "We don't consider what BET and TV One are doing as our target.... I'm looking for The Bernie Mac Show to be on our network."

Allen said he's interested in Paxson because of it's strong distribution system.

"You have 60 television stations, 45 in the top 50" markets, he said. "It is something that would be very difficult to replicate."

Allen said his financing plans include money for programming, which is notoriously expensive. He still doesn't have financial backing and doesn't know when he'll be able to make an offer for Paxson.

If he buys the company, he won't necessarily move it from West Palm Beach. "It's a beautiful area," he said.

Allen now apparently has competition for Paxson. The Firm, a Beverly Hills talent agency, is putting together a bid, the New York Post reported Friday. The report said that The Firm had backing from Bank of America and Boston private equity companies Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

Paxson, The Firm, Bank of America and the private equity firms all would not comment on the report. NBC Universal, which owns a 32 percent stake in Paxson, also would not comment.

Friday's news sent Paxson's stock up 23 cents a share to close at $1.38. Before the potential bids were announced, the stock had been hovering around its 52-week low of 50 cents.

Todd Morgan, a bond analyst at CIBC, said that when Lowell "Bud" Paxson decided in March to stop looking for ways to turn the ailing television company around, that opened the firm up to potential buyers.

"They said, 'We're going to kind of focus on our current operations.' That's a door open for someone to rush in and approach the company with other plans," Morgan said.

Allen said he wasn't fazed by The Firm's potential bid. "A number of people are looking at this distribution system. I fully anticipate a half-dozen players at the table," he said. "I have a great deal of faith in ourselves. We're aggressively pursuing it."

Paige Albiniak, a contributing editor for Broadcasting and Cable magazine, said she's concerned the Paxson deal might be Allen's undoing.

"Deals like this Paxson one could really break a person," she said. "It's the possibility of biting off more than you can chew."

Though Allen's current title is businessman, he started out as a comic and television personality. He played as a child in NBC's studios, where his mother worked as a page. He often hung out on the vacant Tonight Show set. He started working the Los Angeles comedy club circuit as a teenager. At age 18, he performed on the Tonight Show, becoming one of the youngest comedians ever to have appeared on the show.

That same year he was hired to host Real People, a 1980s television show that traveled across the country highlighting the unusual lives of normal folks. In the early 1990s, he got his own late-night talk show, The Byron Allen Show. That show was canceled in 1992, and the next year Allen started Entertainment Studios Corp., his programming and syndication company, from his dining room table. Allen started by producing a show that would become Entertainers With Byron Allen, in which he interviewed celebrities.

"I called 1,300 television stations," he said. "I asked them to carry the show for free."

After lots of rejections, Allen said he eventually got 140 stations to carry it. But then he couldn't get any advertisers to buy time. His home went in and out of foreclosure 14 times as he tried to keep the business afloat.

"Nobody wanted to buy my advertising time," he said. "There were days that they turned off my phone and days I was hungry."

Finally, Allen said, he sat down with the heads of the movie studios and asked them to buy time on his show because he was indirectly promoting their movies with his celebrity interviews. They did. From there, he said, he was able to sell time to other major advertisers.

Entertainment Studios now produces and sells 15 shows on topics ranging from expensive homes to famous athletes to fashion. Most of the shows are produced cheaply and run in the wee hours of the morning or during the day.

Allen also has expanded into online shopping, offering everything from microwaves to Salvador Dali paintings for sale on the company's Web site. Allen won't say what the company is worth, only revealing that it's profitable and the largest independent distributor and producer of syndicated shows.

Most independent syndicators have been going out of business in the past few years, while Allen's company has been expanding.

Albiniak attributes Allen's success to knowing his market and having a unique business strategy. Allen sells advertising on all his shows in a block, rather than selling for each show individually. That makes the individually low-rated shows combine together to be a greater value.

"His programming, it doesn't get a lot of respect. It's pretty low-rated and made on the cheap," Broadcasting and Cable's Albiniak said. "That said, he's managed to build a syndication company in a time that the industry is dying. There aren't a lot of independent companies."
The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe some ...."ultra-conservative corporation has paid off Byron to release his bogus statement as a way of distracting everyone from what's really going down. Sort of like everyone being focused on Byron while Clear Channel swoops in and seals the deal......"
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That's an interesting 'theory'. Could you expound/extrapolate more on this?
I don't think the current administration really concerns itself with the detrimental effects of and ever-increasing amount of companies who have a virtual monopoly in their industry. The only time I really see the government (sort of) crack down on that kind of thing is when there is a huge public outcry (like when people were raising hell about Clear Channel owning practically every single radio station we have access to and they were forced to sell like one or two of them Frown ). So my thinking is:
1. Byron "Ass-kissing" Allen, who has a bit of name recognition but is not still famous enough that anyone really knows his current state of affairs, is approached by a company that already has a large market share in the industry.
2. He's offered a sizeable amount to say his company is making this ridiculously large cash bid for PAX.
3. Reporters trip all over themselves trying to dig up financial information on Byron and devote column after column to whether he can afford it and what kind of programming he would carry etc.
4. Meanwhile the large corp's antitrust lawyers are working overtime with the government on fine-tuning and sealing the deal.
5. The deal is approved, the administration has another corporation in its pocket, and Byron Allen, with hundred-dollar bills spilling from his pockets and a white woman on his arm, holds a press conference feigning outrage at being outbid.
Ok 'Frenchie, you appear to have some 'inside' knowledge on this. And while I applaud anyone who is able to 'play' the system, this will (if you are in fact correct) reflect how AA powerlessness in this system maintains such a pervasive stance. I hope you're 'wrong', but the African American history in dealings of business, power and control go, this will be par for the course. sad
'Frenchie, you appear to have some 'inside' knowledge on this. And while I applaud anyone who is able to 'play' the system, this will (if you are in fact correct) reflect how AA powerlessness in this system maintains such a pervasive stance. I hope you're 'wrong', but the African American history in dealings of business, power and control go, this will be par for the course. sad
quote:
Originally posted by nayo:
'Frenchie, you appear to have some 'inside' knowledge on this. And while I applaud anyone who is able to 'play' the system, this will (if you are in fact correct) reflect how AA powerlessness in this system maintains such a pervasive stance. I hope you're 'wrong', but the African American history in dealings of business, power and control go, this will be par for the course. sad


Whoa whoa whoa, easy nayo! tongue I'm just talking out of my ass. LOL! I don't have any inside info. I was a paralegal for an antitrust law firm for a bit so a have a general idea about these kinds of business deals, but nothing more than that. Big Grin

I'm not really sure that Byron would even be "playing the system" if he agreed to participate in that kind of scam. He seems like the kind of lost brotha who would immediately funnel all that money right back into the white community and have nothing to show for it.

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