Diller set for dollars 100m departure from QVC: Cable merger thwarts ambition of TV boss

BARRY DILLER, the former Paramount studio chief and Fox television executive, will soon be job- hunting again, once the takeover of QVC by two cable companies, Comcast and Liberty Media, is completed. But he will be an estimated dollars 100m richer after cashing in his stock options.

Before Thursday's marathon board meeting at which the dollars 46-a-share Comcast offer was approved, Mr Diller delivered the standard line about his duty as chairman of QVC, a home-shopping channel, to obtain the maximum value for shareholders. He has never concealed his lack of enthusiasm for the Comcast bid, nor his disappointment at the derailing of his planned merger between QVC and the CBS television network.

It had been assumed that in the event of a QVC/CBS marriage Mr Diller would take over the CBS network, putting him in direct competition with his former employer, Rupert Murdoch's Fox.

The commitment of Comcast and Liberty Media, a subsidiary of Tele-Communications, to home shopping is far greater than that of Mr Diller, who has viewed QVC as a vehicle to realise his ambition of returning to the movie or television industries as a powerful player. Earlier this year QVC lost to Viacom in a protracted battle to take over Paramount Communications. Three weeks ago the Comcast bid ruined his latest plans.

Mr Diller's stellar reputation would make him a prize catch for many movie studios and television networks. The problem is he does not want to be just an employee, rather the top decision-maker and a large shareholder.

He may find solace in the money he will make as he cashes out of QVC, though during the CBS negotiations he let slip QVC stock options that would have netted dollars 10m. Analysts estimate he will still show a personal profit of almost dollars 100m for less than two years at QVC.

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