Business & Finance

AOL Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. were reportedly near a deal that would allow them to send cable TV broadcasts directly to China. But such an agreement, long sought by international broadcasters, would hinge on reciprocal distribution to the US of a Beijing government-run channel - a precondition that analysts said would trigger intensive scrutiny by federal regulators. With 90 million cable subscribers, the most of any nation, China offers a TV advertising market estimated at $2.4 billion. But the analysts said significant financial benefit to foreign broadcasters "is probably years away" because of a thicket of complicated and selectively enforced regulations on broadcasting and because of the time involved in gaining access to local cable systems. Moreover, the prospective deal would cover only southern Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.

In a surprise move that would make the world's largest producer of gold bigger still, AngloGold Ltd. of Johannesburg, South Africa, offered $1.7 billion in stock for Normandy Mining, the No. 7 producer. Senior executives of Normandy, based in Adelaide, Australia, called the offer "logical" because of a need for consolidation in the industry.

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