FCC To Probe TV Violence

Does TV violence harm children? Examining that question is next on the FCC's agenda. At the request of House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, FCC Chairman Michael Powell has ordered agency staff to work up a study of broadcast TV violence and its impact on kids.

Two months ago, Barton asked the FCC to address the harm, if any, that "excessively violent" programming causes. He also wants to know whether it would be constitutional to prohibit that programming when children are likely to be viewing and whether the FCC already has the authority to make that prohibition or whether it needs Congress to authorize that power for the FCC.

LIN Sales Rumor Drives Stock

Shares of LIN TV climbed as much as 6.5% Friday, a day after Reuters reported that the broadcaster has hired an investment bank to advise on a potential sale of the company. LIN TV, which operates 23 network-affiliated stations, could sell for $32 a share based on the average valuation companies in its industry have attracted, Legg Mason analyst Sean Buston said in a research note on Friday. That could equate to a deal valued at about $1.6 billion. LIN TV said it had no comment on the matter.

Its shares were up $1.07 to $21.17 at midday on the New York Stock Exchange after rising as high as $21.40 earlier in the session.

Prominent Dallas-based private-equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst bought LIN TV in a $1.7 billion transaction in 1998. Hicks, Muse currently owns a 46% stake and is looking to unwind that investment, sources close to the situation said. Both strategic and financial buyers may take an interest in LIN TV, which counts a lucrative joint venture with NBC and newly acquired stations in Puerto Rico among its assets, according to the sources. LIN TV sold an 80% stake in its Dallas NBC affiliate to the NBC joint venture when it was acquired by Hicks, Muse.

Uncertainty over FCC ownership rules may delay the sale or hurt the selling price.