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ENTERTAINMENT : Qwest to Reflect Diversity of Its TV Viewers, Partners Say

November 17, 1994|JANE HALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Entertainment executive Quincy Jones, chairman of a newly formed venture that could become the largest minority-controlled broadcasting company in the country, said Wednesday that he and his partners are committed to providing programming and station management that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve.

Jones, former pro football player Willie D. Davis, TV host Geraldo Rivera and "Soul Train" producer Don Cornelius announced Wednesday that they are forming a joint venture with Tribune Broadcasting to purchase TV stations around the country. The new company, Qwest Broadcasting, has agreed to purchase WATL in Atlanta for approximately $150 million and WNOL in New Orleans for approximately $17 million. Jones said that Qwest, which will be based in Los Angeles, plans to buy 12 TV stations over the next three to five years as part of the venture, which he confirmed eventually could invest up to $500 million.

The four partners will control 55% of the new company. Tribune Broadcasting will have a 45% stake.

"We will have ultimate control over the programming, personnel and finance for the stations we buy," said Jones, who will own a majority interest in the stations with his partners. "We are business executives (first), but I believe we have an opportunity to create an alternative to what is currently on TV."

Jones, who currently owns WNOL in partnership with Time Warner, said the Qwest stations will do local programming that "might serve as a laboratory" for shows that could be syndicated nationally. WNOL currently sponsors several community-outreach programs and airs public-service spots highlighting the achievements of local youngsters. Although WNOL and WATL do not have local news operations, Jones said Qwest plans to make news an important part of these operations and others that Qwest purchases.

"It's difficult to say how dramatic a difference minority ownership will make because we're in virgin territory with this," Rivera said. "But I believe that the diversity of our own experience as successful business executives is bound to be reflected in our TV stations."

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