Al Jazeera not interested in playing ball with Tennis Channel

Cross Al Jazeera off the list of potential suitors for the Tennis Channel.

The Qatar-based media giant was mentioned by the New York Post in a story last week as wanting to buy the Tennis Channel.

However, a senior executive with knowledge of Al Jazeera’s U.S. media strategy is adamant that there is no such interest in the Tennis Channel. The executive declined to speak on the record because the company did not want to officially comment on idle speculation regarding a financial transaction.


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Because Al Jazeera recently spent about $500 million to buy Current TV from Al Gore, it is seen as having deep pockets and an eagerness for more media outlets in the United States.

But Al Jazeera already has its hands full changing Current TV from a political talk and documentary channel into a full-service news network aimed at challenging CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

The Tennis Channel, which is owned by a group of private equity firms including Apollo Partners and Bain Capital, has never said it is for sale. However, most industry analysts think the network would be better off if it were part of a larger media company.

Currently in 35 million homes, the Tennis Channel is engaged in a nasty legal fight with cable giant Comcast Corp. that may determine just how much interest there is in it from potential bidders. Comcast is fighting an order from the Federal Communications Commission to carry the Tennis Channel in more than 20 million of its homes.

If the court sides with Comcast, then the Tennis Channel’s efforts to expand will have been severely hampered and its potential value greatly diminished.


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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.


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