Comcast Challenges Murdoch with $31 Billion Offer to Buy Sky

Comcast Corp, the biggest cable operator in the United States, offered on Tuesday (February 27) to pay $31 billion to buy Sky, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Bob Iger’s Walt Disney for the European pay-TV jewel.

Comcast, a $184 billion media giant which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was offering 12.50 pounds per share, significantly higher than the 10.75 pounds per share agreed by Fox. Shares in Sky soared 18 percent.

Fox agreed to buy the 61 percent of Sky it did not already own in December 2016 but the takeover has been repeatedly held up by regulatory concerns that Murdoch controls too much media in Britain.

Britain’s competition regulator said in January that Murdoch’s planned takeover should be blocked unless a way was found to prevent him from influencing the network’s news operation, Sky News.

That has complicated a separate $52 billion deal by Disney to buy Fox assets including Sky.

Murdoch’s news outlets are watched, read or heard by nearly a third of Britons and have a combined share of public news consumption that is significantly greater than all other news providers, except the BBC and commercial TV news provider ITN.

Last week, Fox made further concessions, with a promise to maintain and fund a fully independent Sky-branded news service for 10 years.

Comcast said it had only a minimal presence in the British media market and did not see any plurality concerns over its proposal.

The latest round of major deals indicates the pressures being felt by traditional cable television networks which have been losing customers to streaming services like Netflix Inc and Inc.

Credit:Reuters Business Video

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