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Comcast,Verizon plan to buy some assets of Murdoch's Fox: Sources

Comcast, Verizon approached Twenty-First Century Fox to buy some assets - sources


Comcast,Verizon plan to buy some assets of Murdoch's Fox: Sources

Corp and Communications Inc have both expressed interest in acquiring a significant part of Rupert Murdoch's Inc's assets, two people familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

News of competing interest in some of Murdoch's assets broke even though the Justice Department was preparing a lawsuit to block Inc, the largest pay-TV provider in the United States, from buying Inc for $85.4 billion, according to a source. This raised questions about the government's willingness to allow large media industry mergers.

The Fox assets that buyers have expressed interest in include Fox's movie and TV production studios, cable networks and National Geographic, and assets such as the in India, and the European pay-TV provider These units have also been the subject of recent talks between Fox and Co, one of the sources said.

Fox shares jumped nearly 8.0 per cent in after-hours trading after the Wall Street Journal first reported the news. Shares of Inc and Corp also rose more than 2.0 per cent, sign investors may see them as potential targets also.

has approached Fox about its interest, and talks are in early stages, the source added, requesting anonymity. There is no guarantee that talks between the will result in a deal.

Fox, and declined to comment.

After first bought a stake in in 2011, buying the Fox assets would give Comcast, the largest cable provider in the United States, an distribution footprint through ownership of Sky and Star in India.

has steadily boosted its ownership of content over the years and acquiring Fox's assets would further position as a diversified conglomerate to rival Disney, analysts said.

The deal would bulk up its unit, which acquired for $3.8 billion last year, as well as increases its ownership stake in video streaming service Hulu.

is also in the early stages of exploring a deal, one of the sources said. A deal could give the No. 1 wireless phone carrier ownership of movies and TV shows to stream to its mobile subscribers.

Acquisition of a movie studio and cable channels would be a departure for Verizon, which has focused its media deals around advertising technology and internet properties.

spent $4.48 billion acquiring the core business of Yahoo, which it merged with this year to form a venture called Oath. Led by CEO Tim Armstrong, Oath owns more than 50 brands including HuffPost, and

Roger Entner, an analyst of Recon Analytics, said, "It is undeniable that there is a trend of combining content with distribution."

Verizon, which has said it is launching a new streaming service, could have more targeted advertising with a vertically integrated platform, he added.

Traditional cable television networks have been struggling with faster-than-expected subscriber erosion in the competition with streaming services like Inc and Inc.

To increase its scale, Fox tried to buy Inc. three years ago and last year announced its intention to buy the rest of Sky beyond the 39 percent it already owns.

The moves also come after the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to remove key roadblocks to increased consolidation among media companies, potentially unleashing new deals among TV, radio and newspaper owners as they seek to better compete with online media.




First Published: Fri, November 17 2017. 09:58 IST