Time Warner and Belo Corp. sign deals

Tuesday, September 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Belo Corp. and Time Warner Cable announced a series of deals Monday affecting markets where both companies have television operations.

The agreements will:

Create 24-hour local news cable channels in Houston and San Antonio, which the two companies will jointly own and operate.

Expand the reach of Dallas-based Belo's Texas Cable News beyond North Texas into many of the Texas markets controlled by Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable is a unit of Time Warner Inc., the conglomerate that owns CNN, Time magazine, HBO and other media and entertainment companies.

Seal retransmission agreements of Belo's television stations in Time Warner Cable areas.

Among Belo's holdings are The Dallas Morning News, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and TXCN (Channel 38), as well as seven other daily newspapers, 17 other television stations and other cable and interactive properties.

Belo and Time Warner will be equal partners in the local news channels in Houston and San Antonio.

Their start-up investment will total $25 million combined, said Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The Houston and San Antonio cable news stations will each have a management and news staff and can draw on the journalistic resources of Belo's KHOU-TV in Houston and KENS-TV in San Antonio.

The Houston operation is expected to debut in early 2002, followed by San Antonio in mid-2002.

Belo and Time Warner Cable have agreed to a 20-year partnership on the two cable news stations.

"Developing a superior news product is a proposition that takes many years and sometimes trial and error," Mr. Decherd said.

"As we talked about this among ourselves and senior management of Time Warner, we kept coming back to the idea that our mutual best interests are served" by a long-term commitment, Mr. Decherd added.

Time Warner Cable chairman Joe Collins said, "We are delighted to be able to bring TXCN to our viewers, as well as to join with Belo in creating two new services in Houston and San Antonio."

Time Warner is the largest cable operator in Texas, and the agreements announced Monday will take Belo's TXCN across the state. TXCN uses the newsgathering abilities of The News and WFAA, as well as Belo's stations in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

TXCN will be available on the digital tier of Time Warner's cable systems in Houston, San Antonio and Austin and on the analog tier in Waco, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of the state.

Depending on channel availability, Time Warner will extend TXCN's exposure to all the cable systems it has in Texas, which include more than 1.5 million subscribers. That agreement is for a 10-year period.

Belo and Time Warner also said they had set 10-year agreements for analog and digital retransmission of Belo's Texas television stations and three-year pacts calling for analog and digital carriage of Belo's out-of-state stations in Time Warner Cable areas.