Blockbuster: Disney to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 bn

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal. (AP)
Updated 14 December 2017
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Blockbuster: Disney to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 bn

NEW YORK: Walt Disney Co. on Thursday agreed to buy key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion stock deal that could reshape the media-entertainment world and step up a challenge to Netflix and emerging tech platforms.
The blockbuster transaction also vastly reduces the Fox media empire built by Rupert Murdoch, leaving the 86-year-old tycoon and his two sons with a more tightly focused group including the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and sports channels.
The deal will see Disney acquire the vaunted Fox Hollywood film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses, bringing popular entertainment properties including “X-Men,” “Avatar,” “The Simpsons,” FX Networks and National Geographic into Disney’s portfolio.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Disney’s chief executive Robert Iger in a statement.
Iger, who was previously expected to step down in 2019, will now stay on through 2021.
Disney has been seen as trying to bolster its Hollywood and television positions by acquiring the Fox library of content to strengthen its arsenal against Netflix and other rivals.
The rise of streaming services and the so-called cord-cutting movement against cable television, together with declining advertising revenue, have contributed to a rapidly changing landscape for media companies.
Disney, which owns the ABC television network, ESPN and has major studios in Hollywood, is set to launch its own streaming services aimed at competing against Netflix and Amazon.
The deal would expand Disney’s global footprint with Fox’s 39 percent share in the European pay TV service Sky. Fox has been seeking the remainder of Sky but has faced regulatory scrutiny in Britain.
It also gives Disney a controlling interest in Hulu, another popular streaming service.
Analysts have said the deal could face considerable scrutiny by antitrust regulators because of the tie-up between two of the largest film and television groups.
The news comes as another major media deal, between AT&T and Time Warner, has been challenged in an antitrust filing by the US Justice Department.
Prior to the deal going through, 21st Century Fox will transfer the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.
Rupert Murdoch said in the statement issued by the companies: “We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry.”
21st Century Fox shareholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each 21st Century Fox share they hold under the deal.
A separate statement from the Murdoch-led group said the “new Fox” would be “a growth company centered on live news and sports brands, anchored by the strength of the Fox Network.”
“The new Fox will draw upon the powerful live news and sports businesses of Fox, as well as the strength of our broadcast network,” Rupert Murdoch said.
It will also include broadcast and cable rights to sports from the National Football League, Major League Baseball, World Cup football and Nascar.
“It is born out of an important lesson I’ve learned in my long career in media: namely, content and news relevant to viewers will always be valuable.”
The deal has sparked speculation that Murdoch’s son James would play a key role at Disney, but there was no announcement in the release on that.
Iger, speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America, said James Murdoch would be “integral to the integration process” and added that there would be discussions “whether there is a role for him or not at our company.”
Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born US citizen, has built up a vast media-entertainment empire over the past decades.
In 2013 he split off the newspaper publishing group which retained the original name of the group, News Corp., making 21st Century Fox an independent entity.
Murdoch began a gradual withdrawal from both companies in 2013, and now shares the title of chairman with his eldest son Lachlan at both firms.


Iraqis fill the Mosul airwaves after Daesh radio silence

Updated 22 June 2018
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Iraqis fill the Mosul airwaves after Daesh radio silence

  • After Iraqi forces drove the militants from Mosul, One FM was launched and Mosul FM started broadcasting from the nearby region of Dohuk
  • On the streets of Mosul, the radio shows bring a distraction from the struggles of life in the war-scarred city

MOSUL: During the Daesh group’s rule in Mosul, radio stations were banned and replaced with broadcasts of militant propaganda. Today, young Iraqis are filling the city’s airwaves.
One budding presenter is Nour Tai, who at 16 years old faces the microphone with a confident tone and a professional style.
She hosts a weekly program on One FM, a Mosul station launched in February that broadcasts a mix of music, entertainment and current affairs debates.
Her career began a year ago thanks to a talent show organized by Al-Ghad, a station in the Kurdish city of Irbil which hosted many of those displaced from Iraq’s second city.
She said at the time that she was passionate about radio because “it touches everyone.”
“I want to be part of it,” she said.
She now sits in the One FM studio, accompanied by her father, as a degenerative illness left her blind three years ago.
She says her aim is to “give people hope, especially those who suffer from a handicap.”
“I want to tell everyone that we can all contribute something and that we can realize our dreams,” she says from the cramped studio.
The launch of One FM came six months after Iraqi forces declared victory over Daesh following three years of brutal militant rule in Iraq’s second city.
Daesh had shut down independent radio stations and anyone caught tuning in could expect severe physical punishment.
The emergence of stations such as One FM is a step in the city’s transformation since Daesh was ousted following a vast, months-long operation.
Young presenters are busy 24 hours a day, producing and broadcasting shows which are also filmed for broadcast on the radio’s website and social media accounts.
The channel is run by volunteers who bought the necessary equipment by pooling their savings, some selling their own belongings to fund the station.
Yassir Al-Qaissi, One FM’s head of communications, says their aim is to “denounce violence and extremism, and broaden people’s minds.”
There is a need to “erase the terrorist ideology and end the sickness of our society, such as sectarianism and racism,” the 28-year-old says.
Ahmad Al-Jaffal, 30, says the militant occupation “created a vacuum of thought.”
“With my program, I try to promote ideas of coexistence, of mutual understanding, and of acceptance of the other,” says Jaffal, who worked as a journalist prior to the Daesh takeover in 2014.
One FM is not the only ambitious new station on the local airwaves.
Mosul residents who took refuge in Irbil after the Daesh takeover of their city launched two stations: Al-Ghad and Start FM.
After Iraqi forces drove the militants from Mosul, One FM was launched and Mosul FM started broadcasting from the nearby region of Dohuk.
That means it has more radio stations than the two state-run channels it had under former dictator Saddam Hussein.
All currently broadcast analogue signals and can only reach Mosul and its surroundings.
The US invasion in 2003 brought a multitude of new options for listeners, although these were co-opted by American occupying forces or political parties.
The period before the Daesh offensive was risky for journalists and presenters in Mosul, who were regularly targeted by Al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
Mohammad Salem, a sociologist, says the new stations will need government supervision to ensure that this time they are not misused for political or religious purposes — “especially as some of their funding sources are unknown.”
On the streets of Mosul, the radio shows bring a distraction from the struggles of life in the war-scarred city.
Taxi driver Mohammad Qassem, 27, says the music and entertainment shows are a welcome addition to his long days.
“We can finally listen to all the songs that IS deprived us of for three years,” he says happily, before pushing the volume up to maximum on his car radio.