Fox deliberating with multiple buyers for TV, film assets

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Shares of other media companies which could be dragged into a round of consolidation of USA film and TV production and distribution were largely unchanged.

A source familiar with the discussions said Comcast, Verizon and Sony are among the suitors in "preliminary" talks for the assets, which include Fox's stake in the British pay TV group Sky and its movie and television studio properties.

Selling the entertainment business would be a good deal for Fox, said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson.

The assumption is that the sale talk is a sign that Rupert Murdoch and his sons - 21st Century Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch - are taking a hard look at growth prospects of Fox under its current structure if the Sky deal does not transpire. But if Comcast also aims to acquire Fox's USA entertainment assets it could invite regulatory trouble, says Jayant.

Neither Disney nor Comcast can buy the Fox broadcast TV network because they already own ABC and NBC, respectively.

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"Previously, no-one would have guessed that such a meeting would have ever occurred". Verizon, the biggest US wireless carrier, has some interest in the same collection of holdings, two of the people said.

Fox and Disney are partial co-owners of Hulu, a streaming service that offers on-demand and live TV packages. The telecommunications conglomerate may also be looking to buy Fox's movie studio, cable network, and regional sports network, CNBC reports.

The conversations are at a very early stage, and there's no guarantee that a deal would be finalized, this person said Thursday.

Murdoch and Fox have been seeking to gain control of Sky, already holding a 39 percent stake, amid a lengthy investigation by United Kingdom regulators. The hive of activity around Fox is fueling a new round of M&A speculation for other media assets, including Viacom's Paramount Pictures and its cable networks.

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