Disney v. Comcast: Battlefield Sky/FOX

Under normal circumstances, mergers between two companies should have never really been built upon personal grudge and dislike; when I first heard of the potential purchase of 21st Century Fox by Disney a few months ago, while most people, particularly with loyal Marvel movie fans, have fixated upon the potential X-Men/Avengers crossover along with Fantastic Four, the full details of the deal could potentially become  problematic if not examined intently.  While I have my preference of ignoring most business deals as the legal language can overwhelm my brain with relative ease, there’s always an exception to the preference for this instance.  Upon reviewing the details when first reported several months ago, the list of what FOX, specifically News Corporation, is on the table was quite staggering and mystifiying.  

Along with 21st Century Fox, included in the deal are the majority of Fox’s entertainment businesses.  These include:

  • 20th Century FoxFox Searchlight Pictures
    • Fox 2000 Pictures
    • 20th Century Fox Animation
    • Blue Sky Studios
    • Fox Studios Australia
    • 20th Century Fox Television20th Television20th Century Fox Television Distribution
      • Fox 21 Television Studios
      • Fox Television Animation
    • Regency Enterprises (20%)
    • FX Networks[17]FX
      • FXX
      • FXM
      • FX Productions
    • Fox Sports NetworksFox Sports Arizona
      • Fox Sports Carolinas
      • Fox Sports Detroit
      • Fox Sports Florida
      • Fox Sports Indiana
      • Fox Sports Kansas City
      • Fox Sports Midwest
      • Fox Sports New Orleans
      • Fox Sports North
      • Fox Sports Ohio
      • Fox Sports Oklahoma
      • Fox Sports San Diego
      • Fox Sports South
      • Fox Sports Southeast
      • Fox Sports Southwest
      • Fox Sports Sun
      • Fox Sports Tennessee
      • Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket
      • Fox Sports Wisconsin
      • SportsTime Ohio
      • YES Network (80%)
    • National Geographic Partners (73%)National Geographic (US and International)
      • Nat Geo Wild
      • Nat Geo Mundo
    • Sky plc (39.14%)
    • Star TV
    • Hulu (30%)
    • Endemol Shine Group (50%)
    • Fox Networks Group
    • BabyTV
    • Fox Life
    • Fox Networks Group EuropeFox Networks Group Portugal
      • Fox Networks Group Benelux
    • Fox Networks Group Latin America
    • Fox Networks Group AsiaFox Networks Group Philippines

Catalogs and libraries

  • 20th Century Fox film and television libraryFox Searchlight Pictures film library
    • Animated filmsThird-party animated films for 20th Century Fox
      • 20th Century Fox Animation library
      • Blue Sky Studios library
    • 20th Century Fox Television library20th Television library
      • Fox 21 Television Studios library
      • Fox Television Animation libraryAnimated sitcoms
      • Regency Enterprises library
      • Animation Domination High-Def
      • MTM Enterprises library
      • FX Networks library
      • National Geographic library
      • Sky plc library

Despite no longer owning the rights to the Power Rangers or Digimon franchises (which were acquired by Saban Brands), Disney will claim the rights to Digimon: The Movie and two Power Rangers films, which were originally released by Fox.  Disney had originally acquired these franchises in 2001, through its $5.3 billion purchase of Fox Family Worldwide.

Source: Wikipedia

On the surface, it may not look like much if you can afford to take them all off Murdoch’s hands, upon close examinations, however, the catalog of enlisting reveal certain aspects that raise so many questions with regards to the health of 21st Century Fox, never mind the entire accounting of News Corp, in my estimations at least. In addition, it seems that a concerted effort to abandon local markets in the overall scheme by citing cost overruns, which includes YES Network, Star TV, and their Sky holding shares are amongst the casualties, alongside all the local affiliates. The way I see it, though I could be wrong on some of my guess at times, have to do with one of the following issues:

  1. Overestimate in operating costs as a “national” television network in competition with the traditional powerhouses known as “The Big Three”, something they have, at times, overplayed their hands,
  2. Their “national” news network, for all in tense and purposes, have essentially been creating an environment that has cultivated a vitriolic culture and campaign known as “propaganda as truth”, with little understanding of local politics and culture that are in opposite of their “values”,
  3. In relation to the last issue, Fox has overestimated in how much influence they really have unless it’s to their “true” audience, as such, they have slowly alienated sections of audience by being the, excuse my not-so-funny puns, “trigger happy” with some of its programming.

While sections of MCU fandom assume that the deal would go through rather smoothly without much hindrance, however, they neglect to factor in two most important scenarios into this deal, and either of them could torpedo it and reverts to status quo.

  1. Another corporate entity, such as Comcast/Universal/NBC, may enter the frame by making counteroffers with FOX/News Corp larger than what Disney have offered in amount of $52 billion. This scenario was brought up recently as Brian L. Roberts, chairman of Comcast is considering to make such move with several financial institutions. Assuming if FOX takes up this offer instead of Disney, the potential FOX/Marvel properties may wind up with Universal Studios, Comcast’s movie division, and prevent any sorts of MCU/X-Men universe unification occurring unless Disney obtains distribution rights approval from Universal. This spans from a personal rivalry has been developing between Disney chairman Bob Iger and Roberts, whom has a strong dislike with after Marvel Studios decided against having a third-party distribution with Universal as the box office revenue for MCU movies becomes more viable to stand on its own.
  2. Asides from Roberts/Comcast consortium, the other major threat should come in with little or no surprise in the form of the United States government, specifically with an agent that involves with major businesses acquisition (Federal Trade Commission) These two departments are responsible for determining whether any mega mergers may violate the antitrust laws and potential collusion between two main parties. If FTC deems a certain part of the proposed deal violates the antitrust stature, they have the power to veto the deal, and everything goes back to square one unless it’s to either successfully appeal the ruling or win the lawsuit against the FTC, in which recourse of actions may take more time and money spent in court, as seen in the decision against the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger. That particular merger involved with the sale of Time Warner to AT&T in wholesale, and it would have gone through with little hindrance had it proposed during the 8-year Obama presidency as AT&T had offered to sell its recently acquired DirecTV an U-verse in change for operating the cable television, which differs from this particular deal as News Corp will retain the national news and sports network and sell the rest to Disney, given that Disney has committed in creating its own streaming service like Netflix; however, the vitriolic nature within Trump administration that has repetitively stated the absolute majority of major network news as “fake news”, and has harbored a lot of resentment to, I kid you not, anyone and everyonewho criticize his “achievements”, character, and his practices in business and in politics, to the point that he would rather have the whole nation watching in exclusively FOX News, Breitbart, and InfoWars, I suspect.

At this stage in time, though, as this waiting game goes on at FTC, one thing we must keep in mind that News Corp may decide to sell those properties in “piece meals” or engage in various forms of percentage purchase, and in turn, avoiding the suspicions of either committing collusion or violate antitrust law. Yet, the precedent by the AT&T/Time Warner decision could create a lot of complications for future mergers and sales due to political favoritism applied by those in power in the executive level of government, which could become a potential constitutional crisis when involving propaganda, and witness the birth of a totalitarian regime predicated by fear of anything foreign to this particular president known as Donald Trump.

So what does all this has to do with Sky Broadcasting in the United Kingdom? While Trump may not be in the picture, similar rule applies with the exception of the British government swapping with the US government for approval. Yet, another difference is that British agency had already voted down the takeover bid by News Corp a few years earlier, and since Rupert Murdoch’s company had already been ripped to shreds from the News of the World scandal, it was obvious that their interest of complete takeover bid would wane if vetoed. Thus enter Disney’s bid for their shares at Sky Broadcasting though there is a rival bid in the form of, one can guess who wants Disney out of contention, Comcast. Until government agencies from both sides of the Atlantic complete their diligence, MCU fandom’s dream scenario would have to wait.

2 comments

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