Murdoch’s Fox in talks with multiple buyers for TV, film assets

NEW YORK (AFP): Media-entertainment giant 21st Century Fox has been holding talks with at least three potential buyers for some of its television and film operations, a source familiar with the discussions said Friday.

The source — who requested not to be identified — said Comcast, Verizon, and Sony are among the suitors in “preliminary” talks for the assets which include Fox’s stake in the British pay TV group Sky and its movie and television studio properties.

Any such deal could reshape the empire created by Rupert Murdoch and now controlled by the 86-year-old mogul with his family.

Last week, unconfirmed reports said Fox rival Disney held similar talks without any agreement.

The source told AFP that approaches were made to Fox by Comcast — which controls the NBCUniversal media group along with its large cable operations — and Verizon, a major telecom and cable operator that also owns the internet brands AOL and Yahoo.

Another invitation to talks has come from Japanese electronics and media conglomerate Sony, according to the source.

Contacted by AFP, Fox declined to comment.

Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James — who hold key roles in his media empire — have remained mum on their plans for 21st Century Fox, which includes the Fox Hollywood studios, broadcast, and cable operations Sky, which has a presence in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

Earlier reports said the Murdochs were looking for a sale that would leave them with a more tightly focused media group which includes the Fox News channel and sports cable networks along with the Fox broadcast network.

The talks come amid a huge shakeup in the sector as media giants look to position themselves against the streaming TV juggernaut Netflix and emerging threats from online platforms including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple.

At the same time, US telecom and pay TV giant AT&T is seeking to close its planned $85 billion deal for media-entertainment group Time Warner amid concerns of a US antitrust lawsuit.

Murdoch and Fox have been seeking to gain control of Sky — already holding a 39 percent stake — amid a lengthy investigation by UK regulators.