NEW YORK (CNNfn) - USA Networks Inc. chief Barry Diller is reportedly talking with several broadcasting companies, including Walt Disney's ABC, over ways to take advantage of new government rules relaxing restrictions on station ownership in local markets.
USA, which owns 13 TV stations as well as the USA, Sci-Fi and Home Shopping Network channels, is pondering several options, including putting its stations into a partnership with another company, selling the stations outright, or trading its station group for new cable network properties, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the Journal also said USA hasn't ruled out buying some stations itself.
New Federal Communications Commission rules allow one company to own more than one TV station in a single market. The change is expected to create a flurry of deal making in the television industry.
The discussions with ABC were reported last week by the New York Observer.
An ABC spokeswoman told the Journal the network is "looking at our options since the change in the FCC rules on duopoly, but we never comment on specifics." The newspaper also cited an unidentified senior executive at the network, who described the discussions with USA as being of a "general exploratory" kind and said the network is talking to others as well.
Meanwhile, General Electric Co. 's (GE) NBC is in exclusive talks with broadcaster Paxson Communications (PAX), the Journal said.
Last week, market rumors of a possible deal between CBS Corp. (CBS) and Viacom Inc. (VIA) boosted shares of both companies. According to published reports, any transaction probably would focus solely on Viacom's TV station group.
Shares of USA Networks (USAI) slipped 1-1/2 to 43 Friday, while Disney (DIS) lost 3/8 to 29-1/8.