Media giants plan $8bn marriage

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The Independent Online

in New York

The world's largest entertainment company was being stitched together last night as Ted Turner, a pioneer of cable broadcasting in the US and creator of the global CNN news network, confirmed talks on a possible $8bn (pounds 5.2bn) merger of his Turner Broadcasting with the much larger Time Warner, maker of the hit film Batman.

It is the third multi-billion dollar media deal this month. The Time- Turner link comes a month after the entertainment industry was jolted by Disney's $19bn (pounds 12.3bn) bid for the ABC television network. The US television broadcaster CBS is also subject to a $5.4bn (pounds 3.5bn) bid from the American conglomerate Westinghouse. If agreed, the Turner-Time marriage would create a media colossus even larger in revenue terms than the proposed Disney-ABC combination.

Ted Turner, husband of actress Jane Fonda, will become an even bigger Hollywood force through a new job as head of Warner's entertainment unit.

But Wall Street sources said the deal could cause friction with Microsoft's Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, who were both in talks with Mr Turner.

Making a colossus, page 16

News Analysis, page 13