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CBS Chief Expresses Interest in NBC

February 26, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ CBS would eye a takeover of NBC if television network ownership rules change.

CBS Corp. chief executive Mel Karmazin told an advertising industry conference Thursday that his company would be interested in buying NBC if the government eased rules that prevent one company from owning two networks.

Karmazin said the Peacock network would be a better fit with his company than NBC parent General Electric Co. And he said that if Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp. _ the nation’s biggest oil companies _ could merge, then CBS and NBC should be allowed to combine.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said Karmazin’s remarks came in response to a question during the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference in New Orleans. McClintock declined to comment further.

In response to Karmazin’s remarks, GE spokesman Bruce Bunch said: ``NBC’s strong earnings ... make it a perfect fit with GE’s business model.″

Karmazin has often said he wishes regulators would relax rules that limit the number of TV stations, radio stations and broadcast networks one company can own. Last month, he told Electronic Media magazine that he would especially covet NBC if CBS were allowed to buy a second network.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering loosening rules that limit the number of local TV and radio stations that a single company can control. But the issue of owning multiple TV networks is not a priority for regulators, said Vinton Vickers, a broadcasting analyst with ING Barings Furman Selz

``I think the likelihood of that happening is fairly remote right now,″ Vickers said.

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