Noble Broadcast's Bid to Buy Radio Networks Falters : SAN DIEGO COUNTY

San Diego County Business Editor

Noble Broadcast Group's $200-million bid for two radio networks, a deal that would have put the San Diego-based radio chain in the front rank in number of U. S. listeners, has been turned down, Noble chairman John Lynch said Wednesday.

San Diego-based Noble said the offer for New York-based United Stations and Colorado Springs-based Transtar is still on the table and he is optimistic that his company and the networks will come to an agreement "down the road." The deal has been in negotiations for three months and has been followed widely in the broadcast industry.

United Stations President Nick Verbitsky acknowledged the offer Wednesday, saying only that "we talk to a lot of people, and we get offers all the time." Verbitsky, who with Dick Clark is a principal shareholder of United, said "your guess is as good as mine" when asked the chances of striking a deal with Noble.

Fast-growing Noble owns 18 radio stations, including XTRA-FM and AM in San Diego, up from two stations four years ago. To raise equity capital for the purchase of the networks, Nobel last month sold two Boston stations, WSSH-AM and FM, to a group led by entertainer Merv Griffin.

Lynch said Noble's long-term goal is to own a major radio network in order to better exercise control over Noble's "inventory," or programming, and Noble will continue to look for suitable network acquisitions. Noble also plans to acquire more stations over the next year or two to reach the maximum 24 stations allowed by the Federal Communications Commission, Lynch said.

31 Weekly Programs

Closely held United Stations bought the RKO radio network in April 1985 and also owns a programming production company, Verbitsky said. The network produces about 31 weekly programs, including Dick Clark's weekly Top 40 countdown show, that are sold to 1,200 affiliates.

Transtar sells eight 24-hour radio formats, ranging from Top 40 and Golden Oldies to country-western and big band, which are fed to 1,400 affiliate stations via satellite. Transtar also produces a rock-'n'-roll countdown show featuring comedian John Candy and owns a radio market-research firm.

Transtar principals C. T. Robinson and Bill Moyes were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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