Viacom Gets Cable Network for $1.2 Billion

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NEW YORK ( -- AOL Time Warner today announced the sale its 50% stake in cable network Comedy Central to Viacom, which owns the other half of the venture, for $1.2 billion in cash.

That price is slightly higher than had been previously suggested for the channel. In previous analyst and press reports, the shorthand valuation for AOL's stake in the channel was $1 billion.

Among the other cable channels owned by Viacom are MTV, VH1, BET (Black Entertainment Television) and Nickelodeon.

$29 billion in debt
The anticipation of asset sales have led analysts to ease their judgments on AOL Time Warner, which still labors under the difficult burden of its $29 billion debt, significant shareholder unrest, and general fallout from the 2001 merger between Time Warner and America Online. The company releases its first quarter earnings tomorrow before the markets open.

As part of a debt-reduction plan, the company has explored selling assets, including the Atlanta-based sports franchises that came with Time Warner's acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System in 1996, its book publishing group and the music manufacturing arms of its Warner Music Group.

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