The summer has not been kind to Ted Turner. His Atlanta Braves are buried in fifth place in the National League West, and now the cable-TV king's chances of gaining control of CBS appear to be as slim as his World Series hopes. Last week CBS succeeded in buying back 21% of its own stock for about $1 billion in a deal that will make it virtually impossible for Turner's takeover effort to succeed. Both the Federal Communications Commission and a U.S. district court in Atlanta blocked Turner's last-minute legal challenges to the network's move.
Investors have balked at Turner's bid for CBS, which he valued at $175 per share, because he put no cash on the table. Instead, he offered a combination of securities in his broadcasting company and other IOUs of uncertain value.
Despite last week's severe setback, Turner seemed determined not to give up. He talked of raising enough financing to make a cash bid for CBS or perhaps staging a proxy fight for control of the network at its annual meeting next spring. Meanwhile, reports at week's end suggested that the broadcast maverick may already have his eyes on another takeover target: entertainment giant MGM-UA.ENTERTAINMENT Ratin' Rock 'n' Roll
On Dick Clark's American Bandstand, rating a record always means deciding if it has a good beat and is easy to dance to, and then assigning it a number between 35 and 98. But now a group of prominent Washington women, including Tipper Gore, wife of Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, is pushing the record industry to adopt a new rating system for rock songs with lewd lyrics. Their designations: X for sexually explicit, profane, or violent; O for occult; D/ A for drug-or alcohol-related.
Executives have taken notice. During July, Stanley Gortikov, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, shuttled between the East and West coasts for confidential talks with industry leaders on how to appease critics.
Some officials agree that records should be labeled to warn parents if a song is blatantly offensive, as many are these days. On the flip side, others complain that rating systems are too subjective. Warner Bros.' Bob Merlis says Elvis Presley could have been stamped with an X for promoting bondage and sadism in (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear. In that 1957 classic, the King cooed, "Put a chain around my neck and lead me anywhere."LABOR RELATIONS Of Pride and Protectionism
Howard Fields, 56, had no intention of changing his ways just because of an unfair regulation. After all, the autoworker had parked in the front lot of Ford's Lima, Ohio, engine plant for 28 years. So when United Auto Workers Local 1219 and Ford last year signed an agreement requiring employees with foreign cars to park in a back lot more than half a mile away from the factory, the old-timer ignored the new rule and continued to leave his 1981 Nissan in the front lot.
At first, Fields' car was merely plastered with plastic warning stickers and towed twice. Then things got rough. Over a three-month period, he was suspended by Ford seven times, culminating in a 30-day stretch off the job. Each time he filed a grievance, but his union failed to back him. Finally, last week Fields was fired. The company told him he could return with full seniority and pension rights, but only if he parked in the back lot or bought a domestic car within 60 days.