Murdoch goes East

ISTANBUL – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is in talks to buy a stake in Turkish broadcaster TGRT, an investment banking source said yesterday, as the US media conglomerate expands into emerging markets. «They (News Corp) are in talks with several groups including TGRT,» the source said, adding that the deal would probably be for a stake of about 25 percent. Ihlas Holding, which owns news and entertainment broadcaster TGRT, has said it is in negotiations for a sale with a US-based group but has not given any other details. Turkish law allows foreigners to own only minority stakes in media companies. A proposed law that would have allowed full foreign ownership was scrapped last year. Asked whether a deal with News Corp would be completed in the first half of the year, the source said: «Given the regulatory systems in Turkey… no one could guarantee it would be.» News Corp, whose businesses include the 20th Century Fox film studios, Fox News channel and newspapers in the United States and Britain, declined to comment. East Europe ventures A deal would follow other emerging market ventures for News Corp, which is already present in the Turkish outdoor advertising market. Earlier this month Georgia’s Imedi Holding said it had signed a preliminary agreement for the sale of a stake in its TV company, which a source at the company said was News Corp. That followed an announcement by News Corp last month that its Serbian joint venture, Fox Televizija, had been awarded a national television license. Turkey, which started European Union entry talks last year, attracted $9.7 billion (7.6 billion euros) in foreign direct investment last year, and the government expects to top that in 2006. The country targets economic growth of 5 percent amid increasing consumer confidence, making advertising a fast-growing market. Canada’s leading media group, CanWest, recently bought into Turkish radio stations. Turkish media giant Dogan Yayin Holding said last month its ad sales grew 22 percent in 2005 and that growth accelerated to 33 percent in the first quarter of this year.