Allen Media Group CEO/founder/chairman Byron Allen reaffirmed his interest Wednesday in bidding $10 billion for TV brands from Disney, citing his experience with similar assets in his own portfolio.
“I think broadcast television and linear channels, I think is a great business,” he said in a Q&A at the Code conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “It’s a phenomenal business.”
Earlier this month, Allen reportedly offered $10 billion for ABC, eight local TV stations and Disney-owned cable networks FX and Nationa’ Geographic Channel. Disney has not confirmed the offer but has publicly indicated the company is keeping its “strategic options” open. Another company, Nexstar Media Group, has also reportedly bid for Disney linear assets, but only for the broadcast network and the eight stations.
Allen, who spoke passionately about how successful his acquisition of Weather Channel has been since he made it in 2018, told interviewer CNBC correspondent Julia Boorstin that he has an advantage over potential bidders from other sectors that are likely to draw interest that federal regulators would likely scrutinize.
“D.C. is not impressed by the way private equity and hedge funds handled newspapers an deacccelerated their demise,” he said. “So good luck buying platforms that deliver 80-90% of the news to America without someone like me. I don’t see tech companies, they need to stay off the radar.”
He joked, “So I’m prettiest girl at the dance, the best looking you ever gonna see.”
Allen, who has previously futilely bid recently for Tegna TV stations and cable channel BET, said he has been angling for ABC for years, having noted that Disney is well under the cap for ownership of its own stations. Allen said he has been friendly with Disney CEO Bob Iger and has approached him for years about his interest in stations. Allen already owns 27 stations in 21 markets.
As far as the timing of a potential Disney sale, Allen said he believes that Disney is currently focusing on how to extricate the linear assets from the overall company before they can commit to unloading them to any bidder. Once they make that happen, he indicated, “I will chase it down like a lion chasing down a gazelle,” he vowed.
Allen also spoke passionately about his interest in social causes, especially the importance of bring awareness to climate change via Weather Channel coverage.
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