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Silver Futures

August 26, 1995|DAVID NEIMAN

Barry Diller has agreed to buy a 20% equity stake in Silver King Communications for $22.63 a share, a move analysts agree could be a prelude to the establishment of a seventh television network. A brief look at Silver King, spun off from the Home Shopping Network in January, 1993:

Silver King at a Glance

* Headquarters: St. Petersburg, Fla.

* Employees: 196

* Major products: As the sixth-largest station group in the nation, Silver King owns 12 independent TV stations, eight in major markets: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Houston and Cleveland. The company also holds 27 low-power stations. Most programming is made up of home shopping. Its holdings reach 28 million households and have an 18.3% market penetration.

* 1994 revenue: $46.6 million

* 1994 loss: $3.9 million

* Loss per share: 44 cents

Stock Price

Monthly closes, except latest:

Friday: $39.375, up $13.625

Sources: Bloomberg Business News, TradeLine, wire reports. Researched by JENNIFER OLDHAM / Los Angeles Times

UHF: Ultra-Hip Frequency?

Second-class past: In the past 50 years of television, very-high-frequency (VHF) stations (Channels 2-13) have been more valuable and more prestigious than their ultra-high-frequency (UHF) counterparts (Channels 14-83). Because of their smaller bandwidths, UHF signals were not only more susceptible to weakening due to terrain, but required more power to transmit the same distances as VHF signals.

Better technology: Recent technological improvements have all but eliminated the traditional differences between VHF and UHF signals. More powerful transmitters and receivers have opened the door to a previously untapped economic resource: the UHF station.

Perfect signal: According to Clay Pendarvis, chief of the Federal Communications Commission's television branch, UHF stations possess unlimited potential, especially due to advances in digital technology. "With digital technology," he explains, "there's no objection to signal quality because there are no variations. You either get a perfect signal or no signal at all."

Digital TV: In addition, digital compression technology--the ability to condense and broadcast five or six digital signals into a channel band that previously served only a single analog signal--will give broadcasters incentives to invest in relatively inexpensive UHF stations. "In fact," Pendarvis adds, "we're considering moving everything over to UHF and freeing up VHF for other things."

A few more years: Still, Pendarvis says, expect between five and 15 years to pass before any of these changes take place. "There needs to be at least enough time for the market to change, for existing and new televisions and receivers to get the new technology," he says.

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