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Media conglomerates and mergers


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#41
Phantom Roxas

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Does Sony still have rights to Spiderman?


Yes. While Spider-Man: Homecoming was a Marvel Studios film, it was done in collaboration with Sony. Sony is making Into the Spider-Verse and Venom, seemingly as a bid to hold on to the Spider-Man film rights, which is why there is some uncertainty regarding whether or not Peter will appear in the Venom film, although I personally doubt that he will.
 
However, my understanding is that the rights are non-transferrable. I don't quite understand the particulars, but the short of it is that if Sony were to be acquired by another company, Sony's new parent would not inherit the film rights. Rather, it would automatically "force" the rights to revert to Marvel. In other words, if Apple were to buy Sony Entertainment, and therefore Sony Pictures, then Sony would lose Spider-Man to Marvel and Disney.
 
I've touched on this in this thread before, but I should say that, while I'm not certain about Apple specifically being the one to buy Sony, Sony does seem to be vulnerable.
 

There's not much to this yet, but I think it's worth bringing up here.
 
Kaz Hirai is stepping down as CEO of Sony Corporation. https://www.theverge...shida-kaz-hirai
 
Sony Pictures has let go three of their top executives in an effort to streamline their business operations. http://variety.com/2...ngh-1202689087/
 
With major shakeups like these, it begs the question of whether Sony may sell their film division to another company. Current Sony Pictures chairman and CEO, Tony Vinciquerra, believes that Sony Picture needs to get bigger, or else they may be bought out. So, while there are no actual talks of a merger at this stage, it is something I'm going to keep an eye on for this thread.


 
I wouldn't quite call this a potentially hostile takeover, although Vinciquerra's statement does suggest that Sony is preparing for one.
 
Also, for those wondering, I believe PlayStation would not be affected by this, since PlayStation is the focus of Sony Interactive Entertainment, which is a separate division from what would presumably be included in this deal.
 
Personally, I'm a bit surprised Apple isn't pursuing Sony Mobile, though that may be for the best. That would be a horizontal merger, and whether people consider it or not, the AT&T-Time Warner merger is still positioned to be the precedent that these potential mergers will all be based on. Apple buying Sony Mobile would be much like Disney buying 21st Century Fox's assets, running the risk of reducing competition (Though to be honest, Sony Mobile is apparently one of Sony's least profitable divisions, so I think if it were to reduce competition, the consequences would be negligible at best) whereas this is a vertical merger, and one on somewhat a smaller scale than AT&T and Time Warner. While I would say Apple and AT&T are in the same position in their respective industries, Time Warner seems "bigger" than Sony to me.
 
Though I will say that I'm speaking from a place of disdain towards Sony, so make of that what you will. However, while Apple buying Sony Pictures may not be too bad, buying Sony Entertainment means they would also own Sony Music as well, and I believe that is where they might face opposition.
 
It's a little funny, really. Years ago, I entertained the notion that Sony might buy Time Warner, or vice versa. I wasn't really sure which of the two could manage it (I believed an acquisition would have happened rather than flat-out merger), but now it's coming down to them both potentially being bought by other companies. And considering how Apple was singled out by AT&T as one of the companies that needs to be competed with, I imagine that some of the feelings from the Time Warner trial will carry over into what may happen with Sony.
 
I say give this a couple of weeks. That rumor hasn't gained much traction yet, and if this were to happen, it likely wouldn't be until after Kaz Hirai steps down. There has been speculation of Sony Pictures being sold for a while, with the main argument against that being that Kaz Hirai would never allow that to happen. Between Hirai stepping down and the possibility that we do have a solid name for a buyer - although Apple has already dismissed rumors that they may buy Netflix or Disney - next month is going to be interesting.
 
So I guess this begs a question. If Sony Entertainment (So, their movies and their music) were to be sold, would you be happy with it being Apple, or would you prefer a different buyer?

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#42
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The AT&T-Time Warner merger trial seems to be going at a steady pace. Since the second week of the trial has come and gone, here are a few stories that stand out.

 

https://www.wsj.com/...aves-1522432928

 

Some points from this story:

 

1. Warren Schlichting, who runs Dish's Sling TV (And received transcripts of the opening statements, which he should not have), supported the DOJ's argument that AT&T buying Time Warner could lead to price gouging that would disadvantage rival networks, or even outright blackouts of Turner networks.

 

2. MIT Professor John Hauser conducted a survey that suggested 12% of pay-TV customers would switch a new provider if they suffered a blackout. While this survey could have fit in line with the DOJ's argument, Judge Richard Leon was skeptical over whether the survey was reliable, as some of the respondents of that survey could potentially have answered untruthfully.

 

3. Comcast executive Greg Rigdon claimed to not have the same concerns as Sling TV does, although he admitted that he agreed to raise prices for Turner prices. While Richard Leon's issue with the primary argument of this trial was that he would need a crystal ball if this trial is just going to come down to who is a better guesser, Rigdon's testimony lends credence towards the DOJ's argument. However, he added that he believed the negotiations would have been no different regardless of whether or not AT&T owner Time Warner.

 

Next, Richard Leon cautioned both sides to accelerate the otherwise glacial pace of this trial, as the deadline for the merger is June 21. His final opinion would be roughly 200 pages long, and he would prefer if all parties involved looked at their list of witnesses to determine who they want versus who they really need. http://www.kitv.com/...-to-speed-it-up

 

AT&T lawyer Dan Petrocelli made an unusual argument, which is that Time Warner's content is actually not "must-have content", essentially making the case if a company like Dish did lose subscribers, it actually wouldn't hurt Dish all that much, and that Dish actually cuts networks of its own volition. http://money.cnn.com...ting/index.html

 

While Comcast has attempted to buy part of Sky Broadcasting, Sky has been learning about Comcast's reputation as the "Worst Company in America" http://www.dslreport...al-Looms-141368

 

At the rate things are going, Comcast may have to abandon their Sky bid. https://www.fierceca...abandon-sky-bid

 

Comcast is at a "break or point" right now, depending on whether or not AT&T succeeds in buying Time Warner. If AT&T succeeds, it may encourage Comcast to continue pursuing this bid. If AT&T fails, then the DOJ may then seek to place restrictions on Comcast.


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#43
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http://variety.com/2...t-5-1202743869/
 
Richard Leon has asked if arbitration that is both mutually fair and beneficial would alleviate concerns about AT&T owning Time Warner. Charter Communications executive Tom Montemagno seemed accepting of that idea.
 
Since the main argument of the DOJ is that AT&T and Time Warner would have incentive to withhold channels, AT&T and Time Warner's counterarguments revolve around how, while they could do that, it would be a terrible idea and bad for business. The DOJ then tries to prove how that hasn't stopped either company from doing that in the past anyway, without there even being a merger. Since Leon was previously unsatisfied because the arguments seemed to be more about who is a better guesser, establishing precedents is key to the DOJ's argument.
 
Right now, while I understand and agree with the DOJ's concerns, I believe that AT&T and Time Warner are holding their own well here. And the notion of arbitration does seem like a legitimate option, though Montemagno and other executives argued that arbitration should only be a last resort, so they're not quite as eager to settle for that. Regardless of what does happen, the comparisons between the hypothetical AT&T/Time Warner combination and the success of Comcast buying NBCUniversal still raises concerns that the DOJ should probably take another look at Comcast. It also sounds like there's a plan to wrap up this trial by the end of the month. While the deadline for the merger is in June, I believe the ruling and the fallout of that ruling will last for much of next month.
 
In the meantime, AT&T is trying to buy back bonds used to fund this merger now, rather than accrue a greater debt than if they had to pay back later. https://www.bloomber...t-some-pushback
 


Stepping aside to the Disney/Fox merger for the moment, while there are a lot of concerns regarding regulatory approval, the biggest issue is still who will own Sky, and now Disney is offering to buy Sky News directly. Since British authorities are more concerned with Fox, Disney is making this offer so that Sky News would be independent of Fox, and according to Disney, “The divestment of Sky News to Disney is separate from, and not conditional on, Disney’s acquisition of Fox.” As such, think of this as two separate acquisitions being made by Disney. So this goes back to the scenario I described on the last page, and it seems that Fox is stepping aside so that Disney can take the reins in the Sky bidding war. While this makes it a case of Disney vs. Comcast, it doesn't seem to go as far as the idea of Disney and Comcast both fighting over Fox. Just Sky for the moment.


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#44
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Apologies if I improperly describe the legal process here, but I will do my best to convey the current state of the DOJ v. AT&T trial.
 
https://www.bloomber...-set-to-testify
https://www.wsj.com/...-antitrust-case
 
While the Bloomberg article's headline is "U.S. Poised to Wrap AT&T Merger Case", that's a little misleading, as the trial will still be ongoing. To be more accurate, the DOJ will finish presenting their case, as University of California Professor Carl Shapiro will testify how AT&T and Time Warner could raise prices for consumers.

And as the WSJ puts it, "Tomorrow, AT&T will formally begin its defense by calling its expert, University of Chicago economics professor Dennis Carlton."

 

Essentially, this marks the turning point in the trial, with the Department of Justice having gone on the offensive for the majority of the trial thus far, while AT&T and Time Warner will now be going on the defensive. Fittingly enough, as this is the fourth week of the trial, we are halfway through the estimated six to eight weeks. So let's see how long this phase lasts.


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#45
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http://deadline.com/...ice-1202363025/

The Disney/Fox merger is estimated to end in Summer 2019, with management changes at Fox to be announced over the next twelve months to ensure that it will be up and running if the deal does go through.

 

http://variety.com/2...ils-1202751337/

Continuing with the Sky bidding war, the British Panel of Takeovers and Mergers has mandated that Disney will be required to make an offer for Sky if Fox's own bid to acquire Sky falls through. This is a ruling that Disney, Fox, and Sky all seem to have accepted, as the panel believes that Sky is the primary motivation for Disney for acquiring Fox. In other words, Disney may not be necessarily interested in Fox directly (Though there are certainly incentives for them to acquire Fox), but rather to acquire Fox's stake in Sky by acquiring Fox itself.

 

https://www.hollywoo...-viacom-1101570

There is still some slow progress on a potential CBS-Viacom merger. The current issue is that Viacom believes it has been undervalued by CBS, offering to buy Viacom for $11.9 million, while Viacom suggested the deal should cost $14.6 million. CBS CEO Les Moonves only seems interested in running CBS, and has no interest in acquiring Viacom, so Shari Redstone - whose family owns National Amusements, which owns CBS and Viacom (Hence the incentive to have CBS and Viacom recombine) - may try to oust Moonves from CBS to make a merger more likely.

 

https://www.washingt...m=.dee8b0284434

Since the Department of Justice presented Carl Shapiro yesterday, AT&T is trying to undermine his argument in particular. As his arguments form the crux of the DOJ's case, dismantling his argument would be key to AT&T's victory. Judge Leon agreed with an assessment that Shapiro's evidence seemed too overly complicated.


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#46
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So… I think this might be my favorite testimony, if only for how blunt it is.

 
http://variety.com/2...key-1202758157/

“I don’t like Comcast. I’m not going to cooperate with someone I don’t like.”

Since the DOJ believes that AT&T and Time Warner would coordinate with Comcast and NBCUniversal to overwhelm smaller channels, John Stankey - who would be in charge of Time Warner's integration into AT&T if the merger succeeds - is throwing Comcast under the bus to show that the company is by no means inclined to do what the DOJ believes they would do.

 

This is the fifth week of the AT&T/Time Warner trial. Since the estimate was six to eight weeks, we're getting really close to the end of this trial. I don't expect it to end next week unless there's a huge upset, so I'm waiting for the end of this month. At most, I think this will end by May 4th, although that is not accounting for Judge Leon taking the time to write up his opinion and deliver his verdict.

 

https://www.ft.com/c...cf-67ac3a6482fd

 

In the meantime, Shari Redstone seems to keep pushing towards a CBS/Viacom reunion, although there's still not much yet. It seems that the rumors of Moonves being ousted were greatly exaggerated, as he may want to stay on, though the regulatory concern here is that Redstone is forcing CBS to bail out Viacom. While mergers such as AT&T/Time Warner or Disney/Fox seem to at least offer some reason for how they could benefit consumers, there does not seem to be any such assurances for a CBS/Viacom reunion. It only seems like an effort to consolidate the Redstone family business.

 

https://www.cnbc.com...ling-shows.html

 

Speaking of the Disney/Fox merger, new details are surfacing about how that merger came to be. While I don't believe it will change much in the long term, it offers some interesting insight. Comcast actually made a higher bid for Fox before Disney made theirs. However, Fox was actually more concerned about getting regulatory approval with Comcast, and Comcast did not offer any kind of deal in case a merger were to fall through. I would also like to mention that, back in 2004, Comcast made a bid to acquire Disney, though they dropped it after two months. While I understand the concerns about Disney being too powerful, ultimately I believe that Comcast is even more dangerous, so Disney is the safer bet for Fox.

 

 

…I find it a little interesting how Comcast is basically the biggest "enemy" to both the AT&T/Time Warner and Disney/Fox mergers. I really hope that, regardless of how those mergers turn out, the DOJ does take a look at Comcast's ownership of NBCUniversal.


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#47
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https://www.nytimes....ner-merger.html

 

Not too much, but I think this is a necessary update regarding the AT&T/Time Warner trial. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson testified today, and his main argument was reiterating AT&T's need to compete with Silicon Valley's FAANG, although the DOJ contested that it's actually AT&T who has the advantage over FAANG, as AT&T is an ISP. Emails also suggest a very cordial relationship between Facebook and AT&T, so the claims of competition seem very dubious at best. AT&T maintains that the need premium video content, and undercuts the concerns against blackouts by saying that they need more people who will watch the content.

 

As that article notes, all that's left is for the DOJ to provide rebuttal arguments, and then the case will proceed to both sides providing their closing arguments.

 

I'm really looking forward to next week.


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#48
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As the AT&T trial is winding down, I think it's safe to say that AT&T is going to own Time Warner soon.

 

https://nypost.com/2...me-warner-case/

 

Carl Shapiro came back, and it was an even worse showing this time. The poll results he used to show AT&T's blackout potential were altered to show a higher result, so the DOJ's evidence is suspect at best. While they are trying to accuse AT&T and Time Warner of cherrypicking, it seems that the DOJ's main arguments have each been dismantled over the course of the trial. Looks like closing arguments may take place next week, so… if this goes through, prepare for a lot more mergers to start ramping up soon.

 

https://www.bloomber...t-murdoch-s-fox

 

For example, Comcast has formally made their higher bid for Sky, which means the bidding war has begun in earnest. So far it seems that Comcast does have the advantage here, and the question is whether or not Disney/Fox are willing to raise their own bid. As such, Sky has withdrawn their own recommendation for cooperating with Fox, since they do seem to believe Comcast is the better bet for them at the moment.


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#49
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While the whole bidding war for Sky is going on, Comcast seems to be taking it to the next level and may be planning another bid for Fox as well.

 

https://www.marketwa...sets-2018-04-25


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#50
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https://www.axios.co...1fe270928b.html

 

The AT&T/Time Warner trial has ended, though Judge Leon will provide his ruling by June 12, or possibly earlier. AT&T and Time Warner had set their own deadline for June 21, so the potential ruling would be running really close to that deadline. It's possible that both sides may reach a settlement, although the DOJ still wants a divestment of either DirecTV from AT&T, or Turner from Time Warner, as the union between those two is the cause of the DOJ's concern, while AT&T and Time Warner have made it clear that there really is no deal without both of them.


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#51
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http://money.cnn.com...rger/index.html

T-Mobile and Sprint are giving a merger another go, with T-Mobile gaining control over the combined company. Normally, this merger wouldn't sit well with me, but the entrance of Comcast into the market, the merging of Data, TV, and Internet, and the upcoming transition to 5G makes this an interesting thing to consider. Those factors should lessen the worry of this merger. Thoughts?

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#52
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Are you prepared for "package deals" and fake savings?

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#53
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Are you prepared for "package deals" and fake savings?


I got a nice MVNO that I can get a year's worth of service for $180, so I already have my savings. And that's always a worry, isn't it?

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#54
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The monopolization of America continues. Earlier this week, Sprint and T-Mobile announced a $26 billion merger, consolidating their power to compete with Verizon and AT&T. If the deal goes through, only 3 companies will dominate the wireless industry.

Such mergers are giving a handful of corporations increasing market power across the economy. This concentration of power not only results in less choice and higher prices for consumers, but it also increases the clout of corporate executives over our political system.


Looks like the battle lines are being drawn on this one already. Honestly, why blame T-Mobile and Sprint for trying to keep up in the market?

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#55
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Because as he's saying, it's monopolizing market power. They key point of the AT&T / Time Warner merger is that it's a vertical merger, and they needed to prove that they would not be reducing competition, while Disney/Fox or Sprint/T-Mobile are expected to face higher scrutiny because they do reduce competition. While I understand that Sprint and T-Mobile are trying to keep up in the market - specifically to compete with AT&T - that was the same excuse AT&T used, that they need to keep up with FAANG. If these companies keep needing to bulk up with mergers and acquisitions to keep up, it really is just going to consolidate the market even further.

 

To put it another way, if you have somewhere between 15 to 20 different companies of equal status all competing in the same industry, merging one or two of them may not be so detrimental to the industry. But when you have four clear leaders in the mobile business, reducing that to three will do a lot more to reduce competition, and fewer choices for customers. While this just a single anecdote from one person among millions, I saw someone complaining that they moving away from Sprint to T-Mobile, only to now find that the two are merging anyway. It makes it harder for consumers to believe they have much freedom in choosing which carrier they go with if those carriers are just going to keep consolidating.

 

Masayoshi Son (CEO of SoftBank, which owns a majority in Sprint) does seem to be getting what he wants, although this also kind of further highlights some of the other issues. Not just with mobile consolidation, but with consolidation in general. With SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom both having stakes in Sprint and T-Mobile respectively, which would continue on with the combined company, it further highlights that sense of monopoly, as some of these companies are just arms of other companies. From what I've gleamed, this wasn't necessarily just Sprint and T-Mobile deciding to merge. This was Masayoshi Son investing in Sprint until he had enough influence within the company to direct it to merge with T-Mobile. It's not about what these individual companies decide; they're merely at the whims of their shareholders.


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#56
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I think the one thing people don't realize about this industry is the Economy of Scales involved. You need a lot if capital to get a viable network situated, and the move to 5G makes the acquisition of capital even more necessary. As for competition, Comcast entered the market (using Verizon service iirc, but still selling it as their own) and there are a good pool of MVNOs existing. Also, Google Fiber exists. So while there may be a few big players, there are still a good amount of smaller players at it.

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#57
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Smaller players will collapse under the weight of billion dollar companies by sheer reputation alone.  Your choices amount to:

 

T-mobile

Verizon

At&T

 

Those other guys who you can't actually name and whose services you aren't familiar with because they can barely afford advertising.


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#58
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I think the one thing people don't realize about this industry is the Economy of Scales involved. You need a lot if capital to get a viable network situated, and the move to 5G makes the acquisition of capital even more necessary. As for competition, Comcast entered the market (using Verizon service iirc, but still selling it as their own) and there are a good pool of MVNOs existing. Also, Google Fiber exists. So while there may be a few big players, there are still a good amount of smaller players at it.

 

As Dad mentioned, there are smaller players you can't actually name. You mention a good amount of smaller players, but who else do you have? Comcast may be entering the market, except they are also one of the major players in cable. Half of this thread has already been about Comcast's own bidding war with Disney and Fox, with Comcast potentially planning a hostile takeover of Fox just to spite Disney. This goes back to the other I mentioned, where some operations are just branches of other monopolies. Can you name some smaller players that aren't just involved in other markets, and aren't the ones that smaller companies need to compete with?

 

The "G" in FAANG stands for Google, so I'm not sure if you were referring them as an example of smaller players, or making a separate point, but Google is not someone I would consider a smaller player. They are merely another bigger player involved in an industry that they aren't yet dominating the same way they run everything else.

 

I understand that companies need to adapt in the pursuit of 5G, and this merger is meant to get a foothold once that tech takes off. Sony's mobile division is the least profitable side, to the point that they've just reported a devastating loss in the recent fiscal year. The only reason Sony is still staying in the mobile market is because they're also trying to take advantage of 5G.

 

https://www.phoneare...nology_id104563

 

Moving to 5G is a double-edged sword. While you're correct that mergers and acquisitions are necessary to thrive, it risks the idea that monopolies are necessary for the advent of 5G.


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#59
Nathanael D. Striker

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Mint Mobile, which I currently use, US Cellular, Straight Talk, etc. Those are what I can think of on the top of my head. Perhaps US Cellular is the best example.

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#60
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Only heard of Straight Talk, but I think Dad's point still stands. How long do you expect them to stand on their own in the shadow of these big four, soon to be three?
 


All things considered with the Sky bidding war, Brian Roberts claimed that "We didn’t choose to put Sky in play. That event happened around us." Personally I find that idea ridiculous. Yes, it happened around him, but he absolutely jumped on that, and yet he's acting like his hand is being forced. I don't think there's any doubt that Comcast is using Sky as nothing but a stepping stone for a Fox deal.

 

And I don't really see why Comcast exactly wants Fox? Yes, I understand the general appeal of acquisitions and mergers, and Fox wants a buyer. Any buyer, really. These are desirable assets, but when Disney announced their deal, all other potential bidders seem to be willing to walk away from this, except Comcast.

 

So it just seems like Comcast is only doing this to retaliate against Disney. It's not so much that Comcast wants Fox, but rather that Comcast wants Disney to not have Fox. It just seems so... petty, to be instigating this bidding war seemingly because Brian Roberts still holds resentment towards Disney rejecting Comcat's hostile takeover from over a dozen years ago. It makes it difficult to imagine how committed Comcast would be to this bidding war. Even if they were to one-up Disney, what exactly would they do with Fox's assets if they were to acquire them?


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