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Fox, Lorimar Join in TV Shopping Venture

September 17, 1986|AL DELUGACH | Times Staff Writer

Home shopping television, pioneered nationally on cable TV last year, has now attracted a joint venture that includes Fox Television Stations, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Lorimar-Telepictures, the Hollywood studio that produces "Dallas," the two companies announced Tuesday.

Fox's six stations are a potent nucleus of a broadcast network. The major exposure of a syndicated program on free TV will very likely pose strong competition to cable-TV offerings, which include the pioneer Home Shopping Network and Financial News Network's TelShop.

"Electronic home shopping has become an overnight phenomenon," noted Dick Robertson, a member of Lorimar-Telepictures' office of the president.

Went Nationwide

Home Shopping Network, for example, went nationwide in July, 1985, and sales have jumped substantially ever since. Its earnings for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31 reached $17 million on sales of $160.2 million, compared to earnings of $16,000 on sales of $11.1 million in the previous year. According to Robertson, the new combine will mean an overnight advance in the state of the art in home shopping. He said the business is still in its infancy, with growth curbed by production costs and market limitations of cable TV.

Wall Street has reacted with excitement to the phenomenon this summer, substantially bidding up--before the recent market decline--the stocks of the publicly held cable companies in the home shopping field.

The joint venture, ValueTelevision, will begin a one-hour-a-day catalogue show, six days a week, in first-run syndication. TV stations licensing ValueTelevision will get a 5% commission on all merchandise sold in their market, Fox and Lorimar-Telepictures said.

Fox Stations Signed Up

All six Fox stations will carry the program. Lorimar-Telepictures and Fox will co-produce the program, and Lorimar-Telepictures will distribute and market it.

Hanover Cos., a major direct-mail merchandiser owned by Horn & Hardart, will handle selling of a broad range of merchandise from its 21 catalogues, as well as others acquired by a special buying staff.

Derk Zimmerman, president of Fox Television Stations, said ValueTelevision will be "a consumer-oriented, information-based program that respects the intelligence of the audience." He added: "It is designed to attract an audience first and sell merchandise second. Instead of bringing shopping to television, we're bringing television to shopping."

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