Disney, Hearst, NBC in talks on cable joint venture

LOS ANGELES Thu Jun 4, 2009 7:20pm EDT

Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger begins his keynote address during a session about 'Navigating a Communications Revolution' at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's Cable Show event in Washington April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger begins his keynote address during a session about 'Navigating a Communications Revolution' at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's Cable Show event in Washington April 2, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co, Hearst Corp and NBC Universal are in talks to create a new corporate entity comprising the 10 cable channels the three companies own jointly, including A&E, Lifetime and History.

Representatives for both Disney Media Networks and Hearst confirmed the talks but declined to provide details. A spokesman for NBC Universal, the media wing of General Electric Co, was not immediately available to comment late in the day on Thursday.

"We can confirm that we are in conversation with our partners on the ownership structure," Disney Media Networks spokesman Kevin Brockman said. "No agreement has been reached and we have no announcement."

Hearst Corp spokesman Paul Luthringer had a similar statement.

Media trade publication Broadcasting & Cable reported on Wednesday that the three partners were close to a deal to create a joint venture that would hold the three popular cable channels, plus Lifetime Movie Networks, Lifetime Real Women, Biography Channel, History International, History on Espanol, Military History, and Crime and Investigation.

The new joint venture would be expected to eventually buy out NBC Universal and create economies of scale at the 10 channels that would lower costs, people familiar with the matter said.

Abbe Raven, president and CEO of A&E Television Networks, is expected to run the new venture, those sources said.

(Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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