Rupert Murdoch mentioned of owning CNN twice in the last six months in phone calls with AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson a recent report has emerged.
A source told Reuters that Murdoch had offered to buy the news channel while the other claims the latter has ‘zero interest.’
CNN has been the focal point since the antitrust approval of AT&T’s $85.4bn deal to buy Time Warner which has been going on since October 2016.
Representatives of Twenty-First Century Fox, AT&T and Time Warner, CNN’s parent, declined comment.
AT&T were recommended by the US Department of Justice to shell off either DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting that includes CNN to get the the antitrust approval.
Murdoch reportedly made calls to Stephenson on May 16 August 8 to enquire about buying CNN where he was told it was not for sale.
“I have been called and asked if I would sell CNN by numerous people,” Stephenson told the New York Times DealBook conference on Thursday. But he added: “Selling CNN makes no sense.”
21st Century Fox had attempted to buy Time Warner for $80bn in 2014 which they had called off due to Time Warner’s resistance. Fox had planned to divest CNN which was a competitor of Fox News to avoid antitrust issues.
The acquisition deal of AT&T and Time Warner could not fall through because of the Federal Communications Commission prohibition on owning two broadcast networks and a deal between Fox and CNN could also raise antitrust issues.
Fox have been holding talks in the last few weeks to sell most of its media, film and television unit to Walt Disney co. that will leave Fox only with the news and sports broadcasting stations as reported by CNBC last week.
It is being seen that Australian born media mogul wants to expand his news and publication empire and so he is considering to offload Fox’s entertainment branch and wants to replace it with CNN.
According to CNBC’s report, Fox will have to sell its stake in Sky Plc to Disney. Already the largest shareholders in Sky, Fox want to buy the remaining 61 percent of the shares but the bid is being strongly opposed British regulators.
Having a huge arm of his business in Europe, Asia and Australia; Murdoch is well known to be friends with top politicians in most of the western countries and his growing power and influence is a worry for many.