BY JON LAFAYETTE Liberty Media beefed up its war chest to nearly $5 billion after completing a complex $1.5 billion bond offering late Friday. Liberty effectively sold 86.1 million AOL TW shares by issuing debentures, due by 2023, that are exchangeable into shares of AOL at a price of $17.42 a share — a 50% premium to Friday’s close. The eventual value of the AOL stock can be paid either with Liberty stock, AOL TW stock, cash or some combination. Merrill Lynch noted Liberty’s top acquisition candidates include DirecTV and QVC. The assets of Vivendi Universal are also on Liberty’s shopping list. Liberty recently triggered a process whereby it and QVC parent Comcast must agree on valuation of the home shopping channel by the end of March. Comcast’s 58% stake is valued at about $7.5 billion — cash Comcast could use to pare debt. It’s unclear whether Liberty will compete with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. in a bid for DirecTV. Separately, Liberty said that due to pending litigation, its Starz subsidiary would hew to a Comcast affiliation agreement rather than its old AT&T Broadband agreement, reducing its annual revenue by about $78 million. Representatives from the National Cable Television Cooperative and the American Cable Association are meeting with In Demand next week to discuss the latter’s $500 per head-end flat monthly charge for pay-per-view usage starting May 1. The NCTC says hundreds of its members may be forced to drop PPV, but expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached, as did a spokesman for In Demand. The NCTC’s members, mostly small and rural operators, access In Demand programming via Comcast’s Headend in the Sky (HITS) service and currently pay 60% of each movie sale to In Demand, which is owned by a consortium of top MSOs, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Advance Newhouse and Cox Communications. Former Discovery Networks U.S. president Johnathan Rodgers is negotiating to become CEO of the new Comcast-Radio One network aimed at African-American viewers, which is launching this summer; Rodgers has been working as a consultant to Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins…. Adelphia Communications named Vanessa Ames Wittman to the post of EVP and CFO. Wittman’s background includes stints at Microsoft and network services firm 360Networks, where she oversaw its emergence from bankruptcy last November. The company also named Joe Bagan SVP and chief administrative officer and Marwan Fawaz SVP of engineering and CTO…. Sonicblue announced that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company will sell its ReplayTV DVR and Rio business units to D&M Holdings of Japan for $40 million plus the assumption of about $5 million in liabilities…. On April 1, Tom Feige, president of Time Warner Cable’s Los Angeles division, will head to Denver to take charge of TWC’s national division. The same day, Roger Keating, president of the national division, takes over management of the Los Angeles division…. Due to further issues related to an Atlas rocket launch vehicle, Cablevision Systems requested FCC approval to push back the launch of its satellite to August, from May. The company does not expect to push back the December date for launching its satellite service.

The Daily


Welcome Back to Wrexham

Watching Season Two of FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham” (premiered on the network Sept. 12, arrived on Hulu the next day) feels an awful lot like coming home, even for those of us that have never visited the Welsh city or set foot on a football pitch.

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