Hollywood is still scratching its head wondering how Barry Diller will build Silver King Communications into a new television network using its dozen or so UHF stations and the measly $125 million in cash that came with his purchase of Savoy Pictures Entertainment Inc.
The world of broadcasting is not the open field it was in the 1980s, when Diller, 53, bootstrapped the Fox Broadcasting Co. into a fourth network for Rupert Murdoch before striking out on his own in 1992.
"I don't really get it," said one television executive, who in the next breath added the common qualifier: "Barry's not a guy I would bet against. His next few deals will make the picture clearer."
Before the new year is out, in fact, Diller says he will unveil the brand that will distinguish his broadcast strategy from those of the traditional networks. Some entertainment executives believe his focus will be on building up the local news coverage of the stations, which reach about a third of the nation's television viewers. But he plans to do it on the cheap, cheap, cheap.
At the moment, his stations air programming from the Home Shopping Network. But now that Diller controls that cable channel, he can replace the shopping shows with news, sports and entertainment.