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News Corp. ups U.S. presence with $5.35 billion buy

The media conglomerate says it will acquire Chris-Craft Industries for $5.35 billion in cash and stock, boosting its holdings with 10 more TV stations in the United States.

News Corp. today said it will acquire TV station operator Chris-Craft Industries for $5.35 billion in cash and stock, boosting the media conglomerate's holdings with 10 more TV stations in the United States.

Under terms of today's deal, News Corp. will pay $2.13 billion in cash and $3.22 billion in stock for Chris-Craft, including its affiliates BHC Communications and United Television.

News Corp. has used the Internet as a promotional vehicle for its TV properties through sites such as FoxNews.com, FoxSports.com and Fox.com. The company also has invested $1 billion in online health service Healtheon/WebMD and has focused heavily on satellite broadband services.

With today's acquisition, News Corp. will have 13 stations in the top 10 markets in the United States and 20 stations in the top 20 markets. The combination means News Corp. will own two broadcast stations in key markets including New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Dallas once the acquisition closes.

The deal also capped an ongoing bidding war for Chris-Craft. On Friday, media company Viacom said it ended acquisition discussions with Chris-Craft. The two companies co-founded and operated the fledgling UPN Network until Chris-Craft sold its 50 percent stake to Viacom in May.

"Fox will now have duopolies in three of the largest television markets in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles and Dallas," Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.'s chief executive, said in a statement. "We are acquiring stations with tremendous upside potential, particularly given Fox's strength in local news, entertainment programming, sports and sales."

However, questions remain about the integration of these TV stations into News Corp. The stations are currently UPN affiliates, which makes them direct competitors to News Corp.'s Fox broadcast network.

The merger is expected to close by June 30, 2001, the companies said.