James Murdoch resigns from Sky board after Comcast takeover
James Murdoch, formerly the chair of Sky, has resigned from the board of the UK-based pay-television operator, after its majority acquisition by Comcast, the US media giant, in a deal worth £29.7 billion ($39.1 billion).
Murdoch had been chairman of Sky since April 2016, having previously served as chief executive from 2003 to 2007 and also as chairman from 2007 to 2012.
Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and chief executive, said: “We are pleased today to be the majority owner of Sky. Led by Jeremy Darroch and his superb team - now together with Comcast - our combined global leadership in technology and content paves the way for us to accelerate investment and growth in Sky’s brand and premier platforms.”
Darroch, Sky’s chief executive, added: “Comcast have committed to investment in Sky, including our Osterley and European headquarters and we very much look forward to working with Brian and the Comcast team to achieve further growth and development of Sky's business.”
Sky was launched, as part of News International, in the UK in 1989, and, following a merger with rival British Satellite Broadcasting, built up its business on the back of the acquisition of rights to English soccer’s new Premier League, which launched in 1992.
Sport has remained a crucial staple of its output, as shown by its retention in February of a majority of the live rights to the Premier League (128 games per season) for the next three years, in a deal worth £3.6 billion.
It also has big money agreements to show sports such as Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby league and boxing in the UK, and has prioritised soccer, in particular, in taking full control of Sky Deutschland in Germany and Sky Italia in Italy, retaining rights to the top leagues in both countries.
Separately, Walt Disney, which acquired the majority of the media and entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, the media empire that formerly belonged to Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch’s father, has named key leaders for its media networks business.
Peter Rice, formerly the president of 21st Century Fox and chairman and chief executive of Fox Networks Group, becomes chairman, Walt Disney Television and co-chair, Disney Media Networks. Rice will take charge of ABC Television Network, ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Disney Channels, Freeform, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Networks and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, and the National Geographic channels.
Fox agreed to sell its TV production studios, movie studios and several of its general entertainment cable networks to Disney for $71.3 billion, while retaining its Fox News operations and the rights behind coverage of sports such as NFL American football.