Fears that the well regarded Sky News service might have been sacrificed, to appease UK regulators, as Rupert Murdoch-owned Twenty First Century Fox tried to take full control of Sky television, may be assuaged.  In an even bigger move, Murdoch has agreed to sell Twenty First Century Fox to Disney in a deal worth US$66 billion.

The purchase by Disney would include Fox’s 39 per cent stake in Sky – the UK satellite and fibre-based subscription television service –  and the Twentieth Century Fox film studios. Disney is expected to try to convince UK regulators to allow it to take full control of Sky in spite of its media domination.

Rupert Murdoch and his family will retain control of their newspaper conglomerate, News Corporation, which is not part of Fox. In addition, the Fox News TV service and its related Fox Sports channels would also remain with the Murdoch family.

Comment by David Todd: This may be a canny move by the Murdoch family. Broadcasting is becoming very competitive in an era of on-demand television and narrow-casting via the internet. The decline in demand for traditional television is also eating into the revenues of satellite operators such as SES and Eutelsat, who provide direct broadcasting capacity to the likes of Sky and others. Disney has realised that it needs an on-demand television offering in order to compete. Fox’s technology may help it do that. Nevertheless, Disney might also be wise to remember its own sweet past, including its memorable Snow White and Sleeping Beauty animated tales involving the hazards of poisoned apples and spinning wheels respectively. That is, it might be about to take a bite out of a poisonous apple itself.

Disney’s retelling of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale. Courtesy: Walt Disney