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CBS Stock Rises on Internet News

March 24, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ CBS Corp. stock rose nearly 4 percent Wednesday after chief executive Mel Karmazin said the company would soon announce further Internet-related investments.

Karmazin, speaking at an entertainment industry conference, did not offer any details about when or where the investments might come, but said he wants to further extend the CBS brand name online and take advantage of Wall Street’s hunger for Internet stocks.

``We are committed to being one of the biggest players in the Internet business,″ Karmazin said. He added that it is a remote possibility that CBS could someday spin off its Internet holdings into a separate company.

A CBS spokesman later declined to elaborate. After Karmazin’s comments, a late rally pushed CBS stock up $1.37 1/2 to close at $39.37 1/2 on the New York Stock Exchange.

CBS already owns lucrative stakes in MarketWatch.com Inc. and SportsLine USA Inc., which use the CBS name on their popular financial news and sports Web sites.

MarketWatch.com stock soared as high as $130 when it went public in January but has fallen since, closing Wednesday at $66.75, up 31 1/4 cents, on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Despite the decline, however, the money-losing company has been blessed with a market value of $784 million.

SportsLine stock has more than quadrupled since its IPO in November 1997, closing Wednesday at $43.87 1/2, down $3.12 1/2, on the Nasdaq.

Vinton Vickers, a broadcasting analyst with ING Barings Furman Selz, said CBS has previously indicated a desire to boost its online holdings but has not made it clear which companies it might pursue.

``I’d expect they would do deals similar to SportsLine and MarketWatch, where they take an equity stake without having to put up much money,″ Vickers said.

CBS and other big media companies have been more rapidly embracing the Internet to promote their TV shows, movies and music, while developing new sources of advertising revenue and electronic commerce.

In January, CBS replaced ABC as the exclusive broadcast news provider to America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider, in a key move to increase its online visibility.

Earlier this month, rival NBC announced it would buy a minority stake in ValueVision, the third largest home-shopping cable network, trying to boost its electronic commerce business. ABC and ESPN owner Walt Disney Co. two months ago launched the Go Network, a Web site it is heavily promoting across its networks.

In addition to its broadcast network, CBS owns a huge collection of radio and TV stations, an outdoor advertising business and the Nashville Network and Country Music Television cable networks.

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