Internal report to UPI employees circa 1992 from former UPI executive Steve Geimann:
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UPI is about to begin a new life in its 85th year.
Middle East Broadcasting Centre Ltd. of London, a TV production company serving Arabic-speaking audiences, is scheduled to become UPI's new owner at midnight Saturday (6/27).
Robert Kennedy, a 30-year veteran of British and European broadcasting, will lead a team of financial, operation and legal experts in studying UPI's international operations.
Kennedy, the MBC deputy chief executive, is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday with up to two colleagues from London and financial and legal experts from the United States.
The Middle East Broadcasting team will be learning about UPI, from the ground up. Their basic mission, as articulated by Kennedy in conversations with UPI senior managers, is to maintain UPI as an international news gathering agency.
Kennedy said the purchase of UPI "is an opportunity" to support an agency with "a high reputation" around the world.
As was mentioned in a post-court hearing message to all staff, MBC is based in London and has been operating since September 1991, providing Arabic-language programs to Europe, North Africa and Middle East. They have plans to expand their broadcasts to other parts of the world.
The programs include fashion reports, pop videos, an opinion show, travel programs and a weekly report on films and cinema. Twice a day, MBC produces a 30-minute newscast and offers updates every hour during a 10-hour broadcast day.
MBC has aggressively covered the Middle East peace process, which was launched by the United States and former Soviet Union and has continued at a slow pace since early this year.
The network has scored several exclusive interviews with heads of state from the region, often breaking new ground and providing headline news for other news organizations.
The company has 200 employees, many from Britian and from the Middle East, and many with broadcast experiences in English- and Arabic-language businesses. The company sells advertising for its programs, which helps support the operation.
A story in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year described MBC's half-hourly newscasts this way: "MBC News steers clear of controversy. It reports 20 or more stories in a half hour show, giving most topics just a minute or so of air time. But like CNN, its international reach is making MBC an important messenger. Its interview with Israeli spokesman Benjamin Netanyahu at the Madrid peace conference was widely picked up by other networks. And during times of regional tensions, MBC has aired key interviews with Sudanese and Libyan diploats, government and fundamentalist leaders in Algeria, and King Fahd, to whom, Mr. (Stephen) Marney (Head of News) concedes, MBC's interviewer asked safe questions.
"'The nitty gritty of state politics isn't our brief," the newsman says.
Perhaps most important, MBC's reports from Israel have given Arab viewers their first sustained look at the Jewish state. The MBC bureau in Jerusalem transmits more news from the city than any other foreign network in town."
I look forward to meeting with Bob Kennedy and his team, along with the other UPI managers based at World Headquarters.
MBC's successful $3.95 million bid came during a lengthy hearing at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City on Tuesday (6/23). The other principal bidder, New York investor Leon H. Charney, offered less cash but equity in UPI he said would be worth $1 million by 1997. The creditors committee and UPI recommended MBC as "the best and highest bid" for UPI.
Charney spent a week trying to develop ideas for UPI's future. His willingness to support UPI was a critical action that allowed the company to remain in operation until the court hearing.
The uncertainty of the past several months will soon be behind us. We now move to the challenge of new ownership with brighter prospects for our future.
Your dedication and professional was a critical factor in getting us to this point.
Rabun, Raffo Dauntless in Coverage
Our resourcefulness and dedication during the last few weeks was never better demonstrated than in the efforts turned in by Mike Rabun-DAS and Dave Raffo-NXS on two of the biggest sports events of the year.
Although our financial problems prevented Rabun from attending the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, Calif., and Raffo from going to the Holyfield-Holmes fight in Las Vegas, it didn't stop them from covering the events.
Using a stringer to feed him quotes and notes, Rabun produced daily leads and sidebars on the U.S. Open from his home in Dallas. When Tom Kite emerged as the winner on Sunday, Rabun couldn't have been happier. A fellow Texan, Kite's career had been closely monitored by Rabun since Kite's collegiate days at the University of Texas.
Although Kite is golf's all-time leading money winner, he had never won a major championship until Sunday. Rabun captured the moment perfectly in his alternate lead:
"The winds of Pebble Beach wanted to deprive Tom Kite of his first major championship Sunday. The fates of golf had the final say, however, and they felt Kite had waited long enough.
"On a day in which it was at times difficult to merely stand up, much less play one of the world's most dangerous courses, Kite finally became known for something other than his bank account."
Raffo also was in perfect command of the Holyfield-Holmes fight from his home on Long Island. In the three days leading up to the fight, Raffo, utilizing quotes fed to him by phone from a source in Las Vegas, produced a daily lead and a column. On fight night he covered the 12-round event off pay-per-view TV from his living room.
His breaking lead moved to the wire only moments after the final decision was announced.
"I don't know how you do it, it must be smoke and mirrors or somee matched them story for story and often, especially on the stuff from the capitol, you've been ahead - usually hours ahead. And they've got five people to yoor credit to TA staffer Joe Chrysdale and stringer Al Schoch.
He says on one story - Florida deciding to join California and New Jersey in investigating Seaenters - UPI had it a full day ahead of AP.
He also said the AP broadcast wire in Florida virtually shuts down at 2 p.m. when the broadcast editor in TA goes ift operations down to Miami. Amazing.
NXF Uses Caution on Law Firm Squabble
After getting caught in the cross-fire between law firms claiming it's oldest and Wall Street's oldest, New York Financial got a call from another pretender. Would we be interested in doing a story on New York's oldest real esXF took the high road and passed.
IA, BH Cooperate on Tyson
IA and BH cooperated well this week on filing of lawsuit by Desiree Washington against h Mike Tyson. BH got faxed news release about the case first and got a story out quick.
IA built it up by pickg up copy of the complaint and getting quotes frth sides.
Two days later, IA added a quotes-rich sty from Washington's lawyer and other sources that she'll bring up concerns about sexually transmitted dis.
UPI 'Staff' Grows by 2 on Broadcast
Two Washington Unipressers became mothers this week. Carole Fleck of the Broadcast Wire and Carol Van Dam of the Radio Network (some staffers call them Carole-8 and Carol-9 after the floors on which their divisions are located) are holding their respective bundles of joy today.
Carol-9 delivered a 7-pound 11-ounce girl at Maryland's Shady Grove Hospital on Tuesday and returned home yesterday.
Carole-8 followed up Wednesday with a 7-pound 2-ounce boy at Virginia's Fairfax Hospital. Her husband was going to bring her home as this was written Friday morning.
"I just hope the 10-foot stork arrives before I get her back here," he said in a phone interview on his way out the door. He ordered the big bird ornament to put in front of their townhome as a surprise.
Neither Carole nor Carol has settled on a name yet, but each hopes to finalize one after a brief period of due diligence!