A third company has entered the bidding for Newsday, the New York suburban daily.
Cablevision, a major entertainment conglomerate, which provides a high speed internet service, cable tv and sports and entertainment programmes in New York and neighbouring states, is about to make a bid which reportedly would top the offer of both Rupert Murdoch and his newspaper rival, Mort Zuckerman. The figure? Around $650 million, which is $70 million more than the others have offered.
“It’s getting to be like a horse race” one newspaper analyst commented.
Although Murdoch supposedly has a handshake agreement with The Tribune Company, the owners of Newsday, the extra millions are expected to be attractive. The feeling is that Murdoch will ultimately up his bid.
Already it is reported he has re-opened talks with Sam Zell, chief of the Tribune Co.
Whether the other rival bidder, Mort Zuckerman, who owns the NY Daily News, the big rival to Murdoch’s New York Post, has also reopened talks with Zell, has not been disclosed.
There is a prediction that if the bidding really heats up the figure could reach as high as $675 million – or close to £350 million, Kevin Kamen, the head of one big media appraisal company, Kamen & Co, commented: “Murdoch wants Newsday in the worst way, so I would not be surprised if the bidding really escalates”.
Cablevision is a company with deep pockets. Started 35 years ago with a mere l,500 customers, its internet and cable network now serves around 4.5 million households and 500,000 business customers in the New York area. It also owns Madison Square Garden – from which a lot of its sport and entertainment programmes originate – as well as the Ziegfeld Theatre and Radio City Music Hall. Plus the historic Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where many jazz and pop music concerts are recorded.
Still an issue is the regulation that limits the ownership of media companies in one specific city or area of the country – a rule that has been little enforced in recent years but could affect Murdoch’s bid.
At the same time it is felt that Murdoch will be able to get around the rule by claiming that his ownership of Newsday would be of benefit to the media in general – as well as financially bolstering his money-losing New York Post.