Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Comcast Said in Talks on E! Networks

PHILADELPHIA - Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, is in talks with The Walt Disney Co. to buy the remaining 40 percent of E! Networks it doesn't already own, according to a person familiar with the companies' plans.

E! Networks, which is comprised of the E! celebrity channel and the Style fashion channel, is valued at around $3 billion, the person said Monday, declining to be identified because the deal has not been finalized.

Disney officials did not immediately return calls for comment Monday evening.

It's unclear how much Philadelphia-based Comcast would pay to acquire the rest of the network from Disney, which is based in Burbank, Calif., or how long it might take to strike any agreement.

The discussions were reported Monday by Broadcasting & Cable, a trade publication.

The talks are part of an expanded collaboration with Disney over carriage rights and making Disney content more available to Comcast's video on demand service.

In 1997, Comcast and Disney joined forces to buy E! Entertainment. Seven years later, the nation's largest cable operator made a bid to buy Disney itself for $66 billion, but the entertainment company's board rebuffed that effort.

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