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June 13, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:57pm

NEWS CORP STRENGTHENS CABLE POSITION WITH IFE BUY

By CBR Staff Writer

News Corp Ltd, having folded its hand in the US satellite television game, has simultaneously beefed up its position in cable television by taking control of International Family Entertainment Inc in a deal valued at $1.9bn. The two moves can be seen as Rupert Murdoch’s concession to the cable stranglehold across much of the US and the end of his plan to compete with cable through an American Sky Broadcasting satellite venture. The deal for IFE, owners of The Family Channel, will give News Corp its first major cable network. The acquisition comes about as Fox Kids Worldwide Inc, the children’s television company co-owned by News Corp and Saban Entertainment, will be merged into IFE. IFE will be the surviving corporation in an effort to play on the strengths of the Family Channel name. Its stockholders, the majority of which have already expressed written approval of the plan, will receive $35 per share, a little more than a dollar over Thursday’s closing price of $33.875. Under the agreement, FKW will also assume about $150m in IFE debt. The Family Channel is the 10th largest cable network in the US, reaching nearly 70 million homes, and gives Murdoch a powerful vehicle for News Corp programming like the Fox news and sports channels. It is a much needed vehicle as Primestar Inc, the new owners of News Corp’s satellite assets (CI No 3,180), made no special arrangements to include News Corp programming. IFE was founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson, who will retain his position as chairman. His son Tim will remain president and chief executive.

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