New York -- A New York investment group, which is courting
NBC Cable president Tom Rogers to join its effort, has renewed its attempt to acquire
Courtroom Television Network -- but a deal is far from imminent, according to sources.
Evercore Partners Inc. last week sent auditors from Arthur
Anderson to look at Court TV's financial books, sources close to the situation said.
Evercore has reportedly put together a preliminary proposal to try to acquire the network,
but not a formal bid.
Despite Evercore's plan, the ability of Court
TV's feuding owners -- NBC, Liberty Media Group and Time Warner Inc. -- to finally
agree on the network's future is still a long shot, sources said.
Earlier this year, the owners were weighing the option of
having Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System Inc. actually take over management of
Court TV. But the owners apparently have been unable to agree to go forward with that
plan, putting the network once again in play. A spokesman for Time Warner declined to
comment last week, while Rogers and Evercore officials couldn't be reached.
But sources said that some time ago, Evercore approached
Rogers about joining their group and taking a run at Court TV. But Evercore never nailed
down a firm commitment from Rogers. When he was first approached by Evercore, Rogers
informed NBC president Robert Wright and excused himself from taking part in a committee
that was overseeing Court TV, sources said.
Evercore is a boutique investment banking firm whose
principals include former deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, former Acadia Partners
managing director David Offensend and former Blackstone Group general partner Austin
In an advisory capacity, Evercore has had a hand in several
big media deals, including Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s 1995 acquisition of CBS Inc.
and the recently completed NBC deal to buy a majority stake in its affiliate station in
Fort Worth, Texas, from LIN Television Corp., according to published reports.
Evercore has also raised more than $400 million for its own
Alan Gould, media analyst at Gerard Klauer Mattison &
Co., said a rough rule of thumb values networks at about $15 per subscriber, which would
make Court TV worth close to $500 million with 33 million subscribers.