Westinghouse 'to bid for CBS'

Wall Street's attention switched yesterday to the next major takeover expected to revolutionise the American entertainment industry.

Hard on the heels of the $19bn agreed bid by Disney for television broadcaster ABC, the directors of giant US conglomerate Westinghouse are widely believed to have voted to spend $5bn on CBS, one of the top three American television companies.

Whereas the Disney deal came out of the blue on Monday, rumours of a deal between CBS and Westinghouse have been building for more than two weeks.

The boards of both companies were reported to be discussing the transaction yesterday, and some expected an announcement late last night or today.

The deal would mark another spasm in the earthquake that is suddenly transforming the landscape of the media industry in the US and around the world.

The upheaval may be further encouraged by a wide-rangingtelecommunications deregulation bill going before the US Congress for debate today.

President Clinton yesterday vowed to veto the bill in its present form, which focuses mainly on freeing the telephone companies to compete more fully with each other for long-distance calls and to become involved in broadcasting.

Opinion was divided as to whether the Disney-ABC merger reinforced or weakened the logic of Westinghouse's courtship of CBS.

At one level, it seemed to emphasise the necessity for entertainment companies to combine to face the formidable challenge that Disney will now represent. For the same reason, there was speculation that others may rush in to try to outbid Westinghouse for the network. A possible rival may be Ted Turner, the man who built CNN.

"It's like playing musical chairs; you've taken one chair away," Jeffrey Logsdon, an entertainment analyst with Seidler Cos, said of the Disney deal. "Now only CBS is available. I think there's a better than even chance that someone else comes to the party."

Best known for such heavy items as gas turbines and nuclear generators, Westinghouse also owns a string of television and radio stations. However, there are not the obvious opportunities for synergy between it and CBS as between Disney and ABC.

Despite being home for the past year to the popular late-night funny- man David Letterman, CBS is also not the same kind of catch as ABC. Once known as the Tiffany channel for its high ratings and programme quality, it has been in the dumps recently, lagging far behind both ABC and NBC in number of viewers.

Pleading with Congress to dilute the deregulation bill, Mr Clinton complained that "instead of promoting open access and diversity of content and viewpoints, it would allow fewer people to control greater numbers of television, radio and newspaper outlets in every community".

Among other things, the deregulation bill would relax limits on individual companies' ownership of television and radio stations in America. At present, no single company is allowed to control stations reaching more than 25 per cent of the country's population. That limit would be raised to 35 or even 50 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence