Comcast 'eyeing up control of Sky' in potential Fox deal
Comcast, the US media giant that owns NBC, would seek to gain full control of Sky, the European pay-TV company, if it acquired a stake in the broadcaster through a proposed deal with 21st Century Fox, the international film and television company, it has been reported.
Comcast is presently in negotiations with 21st Century Fox about purchasing significant parts of the company, including its movie and television studios, international assets like the Star cable and media company in India, Sky’s UK pay-TV unit, and the Hulu streaming service.
However, Comcast is facing competition from Walt Disney, the entertainment giant that owns cable sports broadcaster ESPN, which is said to be in advanced discussions over a similar deal.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, Comcast is keen to eventually assume full control of Sky so that it can acquire its advanced technology infrastructure.
The sources said that Sky’s user interface technology is appealing to the cable company as it is far more advanced than those of its European rivals.
Sky has 22.4 million subscribers across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and is one of the leading broadcasters of sport in Europe.
It is expected that any deal would involve Fox keeping its news and business news divisions, its broadcast stations and Fox Sports.
A deal with Disney would be more desirable for Fox as it would face fewer regulatory obstacles.
Sky and Fox are presently in the midst of a battle with the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority and communications regulator over a proposed merger of the two entities.
Fox, which is headed up by Rupert Murdoch, has already agreed a deal worth £11.7 billion ($15.2 billion) to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own, and has received the approval of the European Commission’s competition authorities and Ireland’s communications regulator.
However, the deal was referred to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority for an investigation.
The CMA has since announced that is has had to push back its decision on the deal to mid-January instead of 18 December.
The body said that it is having to consider thousands of submissions of evidence that require a “considered provisional view.”