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Company Town : Savoy, Fox Restructure Venture

October 18, 1994|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — In an effort to speed government clearance and deflate objections to its proposed purchase of TV stations, SF Broadcasting has changed its corporate structure. But NBC said it will continue to challenge the deals.

SF Broadcasting, owned by Savoy Pictures Entertainment Inc. and News Corp.'s Fox Television Stations Inc., had formed limited liability companies to buy TV stations in Green Bay, Wis., and three other cities. It planned to make them affiliates of the Fox TV network.

Savoy executives had all of the voting power under the original structure; Fox and Savoy had no votes.

NBC recently complained that the arrangement appeared to be aimed at enabling Fox to circumvent Federal Communications Commission limits on how many stations one company can own. The Green Bay station is its affiliate.

FCC rules set the limit at 12. Fox already owns nine stations. SF Broadcasting said its stations would not be counted against the Fox total.

In a filing with the FCC, SF Broadcasting said Friday that it has converted the company formed to buy WLUK in Green Bay into a corporation in which Savoy Pictures would have 75% of the equity and all of the voting shares. Fox would own 25% of the equity and no voting shares. The Savoy executives would not be shareholders.

Thomas Herwitz, president and chief executive of SF Broadcasting, said the new structure has been used in hundreds of station buyouts and should eliminate objections to the ownership arrangement. The stations would not count against Fox's station limit because Fox has no voting control over them, he said.

He said similar changes will be made in the applications SF Broadcasting filed to buy stations in Honolulu, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala.

NBC still has objections, said its general counsel, Richard Cotton.

He said NBC will ask the FCC to examine how much control Fox has over their hiring and network affiliation and over the stations' financial matters.

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