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King World Up On Takeover Talk

PAUL WALKER AND JASON BIGGS
CBS/The Early Show
King World shares sped to a 52-week high for the second-straight session Monday, this time after a report in Saturday's New York Times said the television producer and syndicator is in merger talks with CBS.

The stock (KWP) rose 1 1/8 to 31 1/16, at one point hitting 31 3/4. Shares reached a 12-month high of 30 13/16 Friday, also on speculation of a possible buyout by CBS.

The New York Times cited unnamed executives familiar with the negotiations as saying talks have been going on for several weeks, but could end at any time.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said the company doesn't comment on speculation. A King World spokeswoman also declined comment.

Shares of CBS (CBS), a significant shareholder in MarketWatch.com, the publisher of CBS.MarketWatch.com, rose 11/16 to a 52-week high of 40 5/8.

At the Schroders/Variety media conference in New York last week, CBS Chief Executive Mel Karmazin told reporters who asked him about King World that his company's name "has been attached to many deals. But as far as commenting on what we're up to, we don't do that."

One reason the question came up is King World produces and syndicates The Hollywood Squares, which has been one of the biggest winners for CBS' owned-and-operated television stations this season. With a buyout of King World, CBS would save itself hefty broadcast rights fees for Squares and attach three of syndication's perennial ratings powerhouses to its Eyemark Entertainment unit.

King World is best known for its long-time syndication of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Each of these shows has been at or near the top of Nielsen's syndication ratings since the mid-1980s.

Written By David B. Wilkerson, CBS MarketWatch