Comcast approached 21st Century Fox for acquisition: Report

Comcast is said to have approached 21st Century Fox about a possible acquisition, a move that comes after reports of Disney's interest in Rupert Murdoch's media empire (See: 21st Century Fox in talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co)

The share price of 21st Century Fox vaulted in after-hours trading after the news yesterday was first reported by CNBC. According to commentators, it was not clear if the cable company is exploring a purchase of all or part of Fox, which owns Hollywood studios 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight as also the Fox news and sports channels.

Commentators, point out that Comcast is also the largest broadband cable provider and also owns the NBC network, Universal studios and other assets, so any deal is not likely to escape the attention of  competition authorities.

Disney had approached Fox for acquisition of Fox's movie and TV studio and not its news and sports networks or the Fox broadcast network. Comcast's interests centre around the same assets that were discussed with Disney, according to commentators.

A merger would redraw the entire media landscape at a time when the traditional media players competed more intensely for viewers with Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix and other tech companies, according to experts.

They point out that a would probably leave the Murdoch media empire as a focused news concern, retaining its news and sport TV assets and News Corp, which controls its newspaper and online news brands.

Comcast is said to be not alone and Verizon too is among the parties that contacted Fox about potential acquisitions, USA Today reported citing a person, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the negotiations. Amazon might also be interested, according to the report.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Verizon had also approached Fox adding that Sony's entertainment division too had informally contacted Fox, according to the persons familiar with the situation who spoke to the Journal.

21st Century Fox is controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, along with sons James and Lachlan, owns Fox, including the Fox TV network, Fox News and Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox.

Fox has run into problems in its $15-billion bid to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky that it does not own. The review approval process has been extended by UK regulators to partly account for several legal suits and charges of sexual harassment and discrimination at Fox News.