CBS has eye on Dick Clark Productions

Earlier this year, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said he was willing to shell out more for the TV rights to the Golden Globes than NBC paid when it renewed its deal to keep the awards show through 2018.

Now he may get his chance.

CBS has emerged as the latest suitor for Dick Clark Productions (DCP), which holds the television rights to the Golden Globes as part of its partnership with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the owner of the Globes. Other DCP properties include “So You Think You Can Dance,” the American Music Awards and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”

The rights to the Golden Globes is DCP’s biggest asset. It’s also its biggest headache. DCP’s partnership with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on the Globes is about as stable as Kristen Stewart’s love life.


In April, Dick Clark Productions beat back in federal court the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s efforts to get back the TV rights to the Globes. However, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is appealing the judge’s decision.

During the trial, Moonves testified that he was interested in getting the Globes for CBS and was willing to pay an average fee of $25 million. Under NBC’s deal for the Globes, the license fee averages out to about $21.5 million. CBS declined to comment on its interest in DCP, which was first reported by Reuters. However, two people close to the situation confirmed the company is taking a look.

If CBS were to land DCP, it’s first task would be to undo the terms of the production company’s rather bizarre agreement with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. The terms of the pact between the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and DCP call for the production company to maintain the rights to the Golden Globes in perpetuity as long as the program is under contract to NBC.

Since there is no love lost between the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and Dick Clark Productions, the association would probably be eager to renegotiate with CBS (or any new owner), provided that the current management of DCP was shown the door. That will likely be the case.

But the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will probably want a bigger cut of the TV revenues from the show than it is currently getting from DCP in return for renegotiating the contract.

One rival suitor for DCP noted that if CBS were to land the company it could actually hurt the value of the TV rights for the Globes and other shows because rival networks would be unlikely to bid because everyone will assume the shows will end up on CBS.

Of course, networks often own production companies that make shows that appear on rival networks. But the kind of properties DCP owns are also valuable as promotional platforms and if the Globes are airing on NBC, it’s not doing CBS much good beyond a big check. Not that there’s anything wrong with a big check.

Currently owned by Red Zone Capital Management, a private equity firm controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, DCP also counts among its assets more than 30 years of episodes of “American Bandstand,” the weekly dance show of top hits that usually featured big-name singers performing as well.

However, while that would seem to be a potential fortune of rock ‘n’ roll history, DCP doesn’t own the musical rights to the performances (most of which were lip-synced).

Other potential buyers for DCP include private equity firm Colony Capital, which owns Miramax and wants to add to its Hollywood portfolio. Also in the mix is Core Media Group, a production company, a co-producer with Dick Clark Productions of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Ryan Seacrest, the TV personality who has taken over the hosting of the late Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” is building his own media empire with backing from private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) and Bain Capital, and he has expressed interest as well.

DCP is hoping to get between $350 million to $400 for the company. However, some of the likely bidders think that is wishful thinking. Red Zone paid $175 for DCP in 2007.

Motivating the possible sale of DCP is the desire of Six Flags Inc. to cash out of its 40% stake in the television company. Six Flags acquired the stake when it was still being run by Snyder.

This is not the first time DCP has tested the waters and if the offers are not high enough, it is possible the company will be taken off the block.


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