Last week saw two of the nags in a three-horse race pull out of the DirecTV stakes.

First to buckle at the knees was SBC Communications which on Tuesday told General Motors it would not be bidding for the auto giant’s stake in Hughes Electronics, owner of satellite-television network DirecTV [WAMN: 02-Apr-03]. Then late Friday Cablevision Systems also hobbled to a halt.

That leaves just one runner whose staying power has been proven many times over - News Corporation, whose chairman Rupert Murdoch has long sought to forge the final link in his global satellite TV empire with the acquisition of DirecTV.

Insiders report that NewsCorp is deeply closeted in talks with GM and Hughes, although they insist the auto giant will not allow relative small-fry such as Murdoch to exploit his position as sole bidder.

Those close to GM decision-makers say the company may opt to mount an IPO for its satellite unit if the bid terms are not to its liking.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff