CBS chief wants television merger with NBC

THE PROSPECT of a huge merger that would reshape America's television industry was raised yesterday as the chairman of CBS, the largest TV network, said that he wanted to buy its rival NBC. Though the deal raises huge issues of competition and finance, it intrigued the market.

His comments came as CBS's owner, Westinghouse, completes a corporate makeover. "If Exxon and Mobil can combine, then why can't I buy NBC?" said Mel Karmazin, speaking at the American Association of Advertising Agencies. NBC has recently lost Seinfeld, its top-rated show, and the National Football League, which is now televised by CBS.

Several of the television networks have been lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to repeal regulations that prevent networks from taking each other over. Mr Karmazin has made a number of comments recently about wanting to take over another network, and expanded on his thoughts yesterday after comments from an executive of Saatchi and Saatchi that media consolidation would hurt advertisers.

It was highly unlikely that Disney would sell ABC, Mr Karmazin said, and nor would he expect Rupert Murdoch to sell Fox. But NBC was not a good fit with General Electric, its current owner, he said.

GE responded swiftly that it was a "perfect fit". Its chief executive, Jack Welch, has said that NBC is worth up to $20bn, but Mr Karmazin said he would be prepared to "overpay" for the network, as he did for the rights to televise football.

That gamble paid off, bringing in new viewers and winning market share. There has already been speculation that NBC would be spun into a new business unit.

Mr Karmazin's comments shocked the market, which was unsure how seriously to take them. He has gained a reputation for shooting from the hip since he took over at CBS. The company is owned by Westinghouse, which last year sold its remaining nuclear energy business to British Nuclear Fuels, completing its transition to a media company.

It would be in line with recent trends in the US for vast mergers, however, and for rapid consolidation in the media business as networks, telecommunications and cable companies and Internet groups put together new configurations. Competition for the networks no longer just comes from each other, but from a wide variety of sources, and they are also dipping their toes into new media.

Mr Karmazin also said that CBS would move into the Internet, setting up a new subsidiary called CBS-plus.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?