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USA Networks sells assets

Wed, 12/06/2000 - 7:00pm
Karen Kessler-Tanaka

USA Networks wants out of the TV station business. It has agreed to sell 13 of its full power stations to Spanish-language television network parent, Univision Communications. The deal also includes interest in four more stations.

USA Networks CEO and cable industry personality Barry Diller said USA decided to sell after the company performed "a realistic assessment of our inability to either go it alone or join in an equal partnership with a stronger broadcast group to build the stations into competitive forces in their markets."

Diller also said that USA may have been too ambitious about its goals for TV station development and said the company will focus on instead on its entertainment units, cable program services and the production and distribution of TV programs and motion pictures.

The deal is worth $1.1 billion and is expected to boost USA's cash flow by $55 million in 2001.

In other USA Network news, the company cancelled production of its movie, Who Killed Sue Snow? The movie is based on two Seattle-area residents who took Excedrin laced with cyanide.

Johnson & Johnson complained to USA about the story line. Johnson & Johnson, which produces Tylenol, was at the center of a 1982 controversy when seven people died after taking cyanide-laced Extra Strength Tylenol.

Apparently not wanting to appear bullied, a USA spokesperson had this to say: ""You can attribute [the cancellation] to whatever you want," Ron Sato said. "This project will not be produced, and we don't have to worry about a crazy individual finding the subject matter too compelling for our comfort. We made the right decision, and we stand by it."

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