Af­ter AT&T-Time Warner win, is Com­castFox a done deal?

The Myanmar Times - - World -

COMCAST will likely bid for Fox’s en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness as early as Wed­nes­day now that a fed­eral judge has cleared AT&T’s $85 bil­lion takeover of Time Warner.

If Comcast suc­ceeds in out­bid­ding Dis­ney for Fox, a ma­jor cable dis­trib­u­tor would con­trol even more chan­nels on its lineup and those of its ri­vals. There are fears that it could lead to higher cable bills or hin­der on­line al­ter­na­tives.

But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon cleared the AT&T deal Tues­day de­spite sim­i­lar con­cerns. The rul­ing sig­naled that fed­eral reg­u­la­tors might have a hard time stop­ping com­pa­nies from get­ting big­ger by gob­bling up ri­vals and the con­tent they own.

Comcast isn’t likely the only mega­me­dia bid in the works. There will prob­a­bly be a rush to con­sol­i­date. Even if a com­pany doesn’t need to get big­ger right away, it might need to do so to pre­vent a com­peti­tor from do­ing so.

Here’s a look at some of the com­bi­na­tions that will trans­form the media land­scape and change how peo­ple con­sume en­ter­tain­ment.

FOX WITH DIS­NEY OR COMCAST Dis­ney has made a $52.4 bil­lion all­stock of­fer for the bulk of Twen­tyFirst Cen­tury Fox, in­clud­ing the stu­dios be­hind the “Avatar” movies, “The Simp­sons” and “Mod­ern Fam­ily,” along with Na­tional Ge­o­graphic. Marvel would get back the char­ac­ters pre­vi­ously li­censed to Fox, re­unit­ing X-Men with the Avengers.

But Comcast has said it is pre­par­ing an all-cash of­fer that is su­pe­rior to Dis­ney’s. It will likely to make an of­fer soon, now that the judge has ruled in AT&T’s fa­vor, with­out set­ting any con­di­tions.

David Turet­sky, a pro­fes­sor at the State Uni­ver­sity of New York at Al­bany, warns that the AT&T rul­ing is based on “spe­cific facts and ev­i­dence” that may or may not ap­ply in other cases. Still, many of the cir­cum­stances in that case are sim­i­lar with a po­ten­tial Comcast bid.

For Dis­ney, a suc­cess­ful Comcast bid could make Dis­ney’s planned stream­ing ser­vice less at­trac­tive.

SPRINT AND T-MO­BILE In April, the two tele­com com­pa­nies an­nounced a $26.5 bil­lion com­bi­na­tion. The deal would com­bine the na­tion’s third- and fourth-largest wire­less com­pa­nies and bulk them up to a sim­i­lar size to Ver­i­zon and AT&T, the in­dus­try giants.

The worry is that with just three ma­jor car­ri­ers, there would be less in­cen­tive to keep in­no­vat­ing on prices and ser­vice. T-Mo­bile and Sprint might even raise prices now that they don’t have to try to poach cus­tomers off each other.

A 2014 at­tempt to com­bine fell apart amid re­sis­tance from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. But the in­dus­try is dif­fer­ent just four years later. Wire­less car­ri­ers aren’t just com­pet­ing with each other, but also with Comcast and oth­ers as the wire­less, broad­band and video in­dus­tries con­verge. AT&T is about to get larger with CNN, HBO and other chan­nels from Time Warner. Beyond com­bin­ing with each other, T-Mo­bile and Sprint might need its own con­tent ac­qui­si­tion to com­pete.

CBS AND VI­A­COM CBS has re­sisted pres­sure from its con­trol­ling share­holder, Na­tional Amuse­ments, to merge with Vi­a­com, which also is con­trolled by Na­tional Amuse­ments. The two com­pa­nies used to be one but sep­a­rated in 2005.

A com­bi­na­tion would re­unite CBS’s tele­vi­sion busi­ness with Vi­a­com’s pro­duc­tion stu­dios, sim­i­lar to the arrangements now in place at NBC owner Comcast and ABC owner Dis­ney. (On the flip side, the Fox tele­vi­sion net­work and stu­dios would sep­a­rate un­der a deal with ei­ther Comcast or Dis­ney.)

With Vi­a­com, the $6-a-month CBS All Ac­cess stream­ing ser­vice might have a larger li­brary, as Vi­a­com owns MTV, Nick­elodeon, Com­edy Cen­tral and other cable net­works.

VER­I­ZON Ver­i­zon, which bought AOL and Ya­hoo in re­cent years, could be on the prowl for other en­ter­tain­ment prop­er­ties. Ver­i­zon wants to chal­lenge Google and Face­book in the huge and lu­cra­tive field of dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing — and hav­ing more con­tent could help. There’s spec­u­la­tion that CBS could be a po­ten­tial tar­get. With its main wire­less ri­val AT&T be­com­ing even more of a con­tent pow­er­house, Ver­i­zon might feel the need to grow.

SMALLER MOVIE STU­DIOS Ru­mors have long swirled that Li­on­s­gate might be a po­ten­tial takeover tar­get by any­one from Ama­zon to Ver­i­zon or even a com­bined CBS-Vi­a­com en­tity. Noth­ing has ma­te­ri­al­ized yet for the owner of the “Twi­light” and “Hunger Games” fran­chises. As a smaller stu­dio, Li­on­s­gate needs to get big­ger to com­pete in the cur­rent land­scape.

Sim­i­larly, Vi­a­com-owned Para­mount stu­dio has been on the chop­ping block be­fore. Af­ter years of trou­bles, it has re­cently re­bounded with the hor­ror film “A Quiet Place” and com­edy “Book Club.” That could make it a lu­cra­tive takeover tar­get by a com­pany seek­ing con­tent cre­ators. – AP

Photo: AP

This Aug. 1, 2017, file photo shows the 21st Cen­tury Fox sign out­side of the News Cor­po­ra­tion head­quar­ters build­ing in New York. Dis­ney has made a $52.4 bil­lion all-stock of­fer for the bulk of Twenty-First Cen­tury Fox, in­clud­ing the stu­dios be­hind the...

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