Myanmar court remands Reuters journalists for 2 more weeks

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Myanmar court remands Reuters journalists for 2 more weeks

YANGON: The detention of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar was extended for two more weeks, a court said Wednesday, in the pair’s first public appearance since their December 12 arrest under a draconian colonial-era secrecy law.
Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27 — Myanmar nationals who had been reporting on a military-led crackdown on Rohingya Muslims — were arrested after being invited to meet police for dinner on the outskirts of Yangon.
They face up to 14 years in jail under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing documents related to the army crackdown in Rakhine state — a highly sensitive issue in Myanmar.
The UN says the army is likely guilty of ethnic cleansing and may have committed genocide against the Muslim minority, some 655,000 of whom have fled the country since the military launched a crackdown on Rohingya rebels in late August.
Myanmar denies the allegations and has tightly controlled media and UN access to the conflict area.
Myanmar officials have refused to comment on where the Reuters journalists were being detained or when they would be released.
On Wednesday, the pair appeared in public for the first time in a court on the outskirts of Yangon, where they were embraced by tearful relatives who have been denied any contact with the two men.
“They have not mistreated me,” Wa Lone told AFP inside the courthouse.
The other reporter, Kyaw Soe Oo, urged other journalists to be cautious in brief comments to AFP.
“Please tell journalist friends to be careful. It’s really scary. We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
Judge Ohn Myint extended their remand period until January 10, telling the court “the interrogation is still ongoing.”
The arrests have been widely condemned as the latest sign of eroding press freedoms in Myanmar, which is still shedding a 50-year legacy of brutal junta rule.
The emerging democracy is now led by former democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was swept into office in the 2015 elections.
But her civilian administration must share power with an army that retains firm control of security policy and other key levers of government.
At least 11 journalists have been arrested in Myanmar in 2017.


Comcast outbids Fox with $40 billion offer for Sky in auction

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp and co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, arrives at the Sun Valley Resort of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 10, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Comcast outbids Fox with $40 billion offer for Sky in auction

  • Disney agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its existing 39 percent stake in Sky, in June and would have taken full ownership after a successful Fox takeover

LONDON: Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in the battle for Sky on Saturday after offering 30.6 billion pounds ($40 billion) in a dramatic auction to decide the fate of the pay-television group.
The US cable giant bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 pounds-a-share offer by Fox, Britain’s Takeover Panel said.
Buying Sky will make Philadephia-based Comcast, which owns the NBC network and Universal Pictures, the world’s largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers.
Chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts has had his eye on Sky as a way to help counter declines in subscribers for traditional cable TV in its core US market as viewers switch to video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon .
“This is a great day for Comcast,” he said. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”
Comcast’s knock-out offer thwarted Murdoch’s long-held ambition to win control of Sky, and is also a setback for US entertainment giant Walt Disney which would have likely been its ultimate owner.
Disney agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its existing 39 percent stake in Sky, in June and would have taken full ownership after a successful Fox takeover.
Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bid going into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’s closing price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.
Comcast believed it needed to deliver a knock-out blow given that Fox’s existing stake in Sky gave it a chance of victory if it was a close second to Comcast, two sources said.
Comcast’s final offer — more than double Sky’s share price before Fox made its approach in December 2016 — quickly won the backing of Sky’s independent directors on Saturday.
“We are recommending it as it represents materially superior value,” said Martin Gilbert, chairman of Sky’s independent committee. “We are focused on drawing this process to a successful and swift close and therefore urge shareholders to accept the recommended Comcast offer.”
Fox will now concede defeat, a source told Reuters.
It is reviewing options for its stake, a holding that stems from Murdoch’s role in the creation of the company nearly three decades ago, the source said.
Fox declined to comment.
Comcast, which requires 50 percent plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.

HUGE PRICE
One hedge fund manager who holds Sky shares said nobody could complain about the Comcast price.
“The question now is if Fox actually sells out and if not can Comcast get to 50 percent,” he said.
Another hedge-fund manager said it was a “huge” price, and shareholders would accept it.
Sources familiar with the matter said Fox, Disney and Comcast had not been in discussions about the 39 percent stake.
The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to a protracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February, when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.
It is a blow to 87-year-old Murdoch and the US media and entertainment group that he controls, which had been trying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.
Murdoch’s son James, currently chairman of Sky, was instrumental in building the company into the leading European pay TV group, with operations in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and more than 23 million customers attracted to its top-flight sport and entertainment content.
Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch said it was the beginning of a new chapter. “Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase,” he said. ($1 = 0.7648 pounds)