CNN Could Be Worth $5bn if Put Up for Sale: Analyst
Rupert Murdoch.Reuters

If Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox succeeds in buying rival entertainment giant Time Warner and CNN is put up for sale, the 24-hour cable news network could be worth $5bn, an analyst has said.

Gabelli & Co's Brett Harriss said CNN is worth about 11 times its annual estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $450m (£263mm, €333m).

Harriss based his valuation on recent media deals such as Discovery Communications' acquisition of a controlling stake in Eurosport International and AMC Networks' purchase of Chellomedia.

Both transactions were valued at 10.5 times to 11 times EBITDA, Harriss told Reuters.

Octogenarian Murdoch is unlikely to ditch his pursuit of Time Warner, unnamed sources told the news agency.

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox revealed on 16 July that it made an unsuccessful bid to take over Time Warner. The bid was thought to have been worth $80bn or $85 a share in cash and shares plus the absorption of $12bn debt by media behemoth Fox.

Fox has hinted it will sell Time Warner's CNN, a direct competitor to Fox News, to thwart any regulatory hurdles, the sources added.

CNN Suitors

Harriss named Walt Disney's ABC network, which does not own a cable news channel, a potential bidder for CNN.

CBS could also be a possible suitor, people familiar with the broadcast network told the news agency.

Pursued by Reuters, Time Warner and Walt Disney did not respond to requests for comment. A CBS spokesman refused to comment

CNN's Woes

CNN is battling declining ratings and advertising revenue, alongside competition from Fox News and Comcast's MSNBC.

CNN's advertising revenue, which is based on the number of viewers watching a show, slipped to $319.8m in 2013 from $327.7m in 2012, according to data from SNL Kagan.

In 2013, Murdoch split his firm into two separate entities, with 21st Century Fox handling the entertainment side of the business and News Corp controlling the publishing, such as his UK newspapers including The Times and The Sun and book publisher HarperCollins.