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Barry Buys Broadcaster, Warren Opens Wallet, Bill Boots Up

August 26, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ Barry Diller finally got his TV again, Warren Buffett spent a few billion to win a young love, and Bill Gates piloted a piece of computer code into publicity-stunt history.

A look at the big stories in business this past week:

Making Air Waves: Visionary Vaults Back into TV Brawl

Barry Diller, progenitor of the nation’s fourth television network and onetime boss of the Paramount Hollywood studio, had been conspicuously absent from the entertainment business ever since his deal to run CBS Inc. collapsed last year. But the executive re-entered from an obscure direction, acquiring control of 12 small TV stations that could form the basis for a new entrant in the intensely competitive TV network world.

Investors in station group owner Silver King Communications reacted enthusiastically to this news, driving up the company’s stock price on the belief that the creator of the Fox network, the first successful challenger to the ABC-NBC-CBS troika, could work another miracle.

Diller will have to concoct programming for the Silver King stations, which now carry home-shopping shows. He also must contend with other network wannabes started by Warner Brothers and Paramount, which already are struggling for viewer attention in increasingly congested airwave space.

What Money Can Buy: Buffett Gets Company He’s Eyed For 44 Years

It’s kind of the investment equivalent of marrying your high-school crush after flirting for four decades.

That’s not exactly the way Warren Buffett described his purchase of the

Geico Corp. insurer for $2.3 billion. He already owned half the company, and in explaining why he finally bought the rest, the folksy Omaha multibillionaire said Geico has been his favorite since 1951, when he was an aspiring stock analyst looking for promising business opportunities.

Buffett plopped down $7,000 for a stake in Geico back then and intermittently increased his stake in the highly profitable company, which specializes in providing low-cost insurance to low-risk customers.

The purchase marks Buffett’s biggest single investment to date. Geico will become a subsidiary of his investment conglomerate

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which owns a chunk of other lucrative American success stories ranging from Coca-Cola USA to the

Washington Post Co..

Flood Gates: When Microsoft Boss Sends a Message, You Can’t Escape

From infants in the land Down Under to gawkers at the Empire State Building, Microsoft Corp.’s software upgrade known as Windows 95 became a message imposed on daily life.

The $150 million promotion campaign led by chairman Bill Gates reached a pinnacle on the official Aug. 24 launch day. The company gave free copies to Australian newborns, bought out the London Times press run to insert Windows 95 ads and encouraged computer stores to hold ``Midnight Madness″ hours for buyers who felt they must have it first. Microsoft bathed Manhattan’s most famous skyscraper in Windows 95 colors, peppered prime-time TV with ``Start Me Up″ ads and entertained 3,000 guests at a home-base carnival.

It’s not over. The Redmond, Wash.-based computer software leader, which makes the programs that operate 80 percent of the world’s PCS, is running TV infomercials nationally about Windows 95 in the coming week. Gates even stars in a Coke ad that will appear exclusively during the broadcasts.

Winners, Losers and In Between:

Winners: Philip Morris Cos., which got an extraordinary public apology from Capital Cities/ABC Inc. for a 1994 news broadcast that asserted cigarette makers ``spike″ cigarettes with nicotine.

Losers: Eight-hundred workers at Kellogg Co., whose jobs will be eliminated because of a sales slowdown in the breakfast cereal industry. Many of the positions will be slashed at Kellogg’s own headquarters plant in Battle Creek, Mich., locally known as Cereal City, U.S.A.

In Between: Turner Broadcasting System Inc. Ted Turner, struggling to find a way to arrange a rival bid for CBS Inc. before the network is sold to Westinghouse Electric Corp. for $5.4 billion. Turner’s reported plan to buy King World Productions Inc. for stock and use the company’s cash flow to finance a CBS takeover was thwarted by his own board of directors. But Turner has other ways to raise money and was said to be talking with potential partners including Microsoft and French media group Havas SA.

TICKER:

Public Service Co. of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service Co. agreed to merge, the latest example of consolidation sweeping the power industry...Northwest Airlines accused rival

American Airlines of trying to resurrect bias into computerized airline reservation systems...Federal Reserve policymakers left interest rates unchanged, Germany’s Bundesbank dropped rates to the lowest in six years, and Russia’s Central Bank injected enormous sums into the system to quell a financial panic.

COMING UP:

TUESDAY: Commerce Department reports July home sales, Conference Board reports August consumer confidence survey.

WEDNESDAY: Commerce reports 2nd-quarter economic growth.

THURSDAY: Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims, Commerce reports July personal income and factory orders.

FRIDAY: Labor reports August unemployment, Commerce reports July leading indicators and construction spending, National Association of Purchasing Management reports August economic survey.

End adv for weekend editions Aug. 26-27

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