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Disney to buy Fox from Murdoch after Comcast exits bidding war

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Comcast on Thursday dropped out of a bidding war with Disney for prized film and television operations of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, effectively clearing a path to a new landscape in the media-entertainment world.

The cable and media giant said in a statement it would instead focus on acquiring the European pay TV operator Sky, shifting its stand on how it approaches the latest round of consolidation in the media-entertainment sector.

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The move effectively ensures that Disney will be able to complete its $71.3 billion tie-up with Fox that creates a new powerhouse in the sector as Murdoch slims down his media empire.

“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” said a statement from the group which is the leading US cable operator and also owns NBCUniversal.

Brian Roberts, Comcast chairman chief executive, added: “I’d like to congratulate (Disney CEO) Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”

Both Comcast and Disney had been coveting the prized assets being sold by Murdoch, which include the Fox studios in Hollywood and important film and television production operations.

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The acquiring company would have stood to become a dominant force at the box office and in television, with production companies responsible for “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” and a key stake in the online platform Hulu.

At the same time, a battle has been heating up over Sky, the British-based pay TV operator in which Fox holds a 39 percent stake.

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Disney launched its offer for Fox’s assets last December at $52.4 billion as Murdoch and his family announced they would reorganize to focus on Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and some sports operations.

Comcast made its bid of $65 billion in June, aiming to capitalize on what was seen as an easier regulatory path after rival pay TV operator AT&T successfully defended an antitrust challenge to its acquisition of media-entertainment group Time Warner.

Comcast is competing with Fox over the Sky bid, with regulators wary about Murdoch extending his influence in the media sector.

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Earlier this month, Comcast lifted its Sky offer to £26 billion ($34.3 billion, 29.5 billion euros) only hours after Fox boosted its bid for the 61 percent of Sky it does not own.

Critics say that allowing Murdoch — who owns major British newspaper titles The Times and The Sun — full control of rolling TV channel Sky News would give him too much influence in the UK news business.

To remedy this, Fox has proposed to sell Sky News to Disney.

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But some reports say Disney and Fox were prepared to allow Comcast to take over Sky if their tie-up in the US market goes ahead.

The Fox-Disney tie-up has already received approval from the US Department of Justice, contingent on the divestment of 22 regional sports networks now owned by Fox.

The big media-entertainment firms are pursuing deals as they seek to slow the rise of streaming media platforms like Netflix and Amazon, and prepare for the entry into the sector by Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook.

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These issues were debated at the antitrust trial over AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, with the companies claiming internet-based platforms have an advantage over traditional media firms because of the data they collect on customers.

Disney, which owns the ABC broadcast network and ESPN sports channels along with its film and theme park operations, has been expanding efforts in streaming, and could use the Fox assets to bring in more highly-sought content.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘Go back to Harlem!’: Florida woman has n-word laced meltdown after bumping black woman’s shopping cart

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On Saturday, the Atlanta Black Star reported an incident in Florida, in which a white woman screamed racial slurs at a black woman at a Publix supermarket in Miami after their shopping carts jostled each other.

After the woman allegedly banged into Nicki Johnson's cart, she refused to apologize, saying, "I didn't hit you with my cart, and f**k you,  you f**king n****r."

Johnson whipped out her cell phone camera, and began recording the incident, saying "You, why don't you call me a n****r again?"

"You thinking I'm sorry?" snapped the woman. "Let me tell you something, I don't have to call you anything. Get away from me, I will call security and there are surveillance videos. Get away from me!"

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‘I’m a nurse, what are you?’: Tennessee lawmaker humiliates anti-choice activists in brutal public grilling

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Anti-choice activists in Tennessee were unprepared for the grilling they got from a Democratic Party lawmaker when making the case for a bill that would outlaw abortion before many women knew they were pregnant.

One of the speakers in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill was Baptist Pastor Randy Davis, who was questioned by state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis).

"How many women executive pastors do you have in your convention?" Robinson asked Davis. "Or senior pastors."

"None," Davis replied.

"So is it the same ideology that restricts access to women being able to lead a congregation that leads you all to support women not being able to make a medical decision about their body?" Robinson asked.

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2020 Election

Trump is doing everything he did in 2016 to get elected — and it’s failing this time: columnist

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On Saturday, Washington Post columnist Dan Balz wrote that President Donald Trump is relying on the same old bag of tricks that let him lurch blindly to a surprise victory in 2016 — but that that playbook is unlikely to get him elected again, let alone deliver sound domestic or foreign policy.

"After a week in which the threat of recession rocked global financial markets, his trade war with China showed no signs of progress and the government of Israel got into a nasty dispute with two members of Congress, President Trump went to bed Thursday night with other weighty issues on his mind. 'Great news,' he tweeted. 'Tonight we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena [Southern New Hampshire University] in Manchester!'" wrote Balz. "This is the frivolous mind-set of the president of the United States. Trump’s flurry of statements over the past few days have brought into focus once again something fundamental about him: He has little understanding of what it means to govern. He would rather tweet from the bleachers."

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