Sept. 14 (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) has held exploratory discussions about selling its U.S. television network ABC to regional TV station operator Nexstar Media Group Inc (NXST.O), two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Media tycoon Byron Allen has also made a $10 billion bid to acquire ABC and local stations and cable channels FX and National Geographic, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the proposal.
Representatives for Disney and Allen did not respond to requests for comment on the Bloomberg report.
The discussions come after Disney CEO Bob Iger said last July that the company may sell some of its traditional television assets, which have suffered for years due to the rise of streaming services.
One source told Reuters that Nexstar’s interest is preliminary and may not lead to any deal. The two sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential.
A Disney spokesperson said that while the company is “open to considering strategic options for its linear business,” it has not yet made a decision on divesting ABC or any other ownership.
Nexstar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bloomberg News first reported that the two companies were in talks about a deal for ABC.
Disney ABC consists of a national television network and eight regional stations. It has affiliation agreements with approximately 240 local television stations reaching nearly all American television households.
Nexstar has 200 owned or partnered stations in 116 markets, reaching more than two-thirds of the U.S. population, as well as national television networks such as The CW and NewsNation. Its market value is $5.25 billion.
Then Disney CEO Michael Eisner agreed to buy Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion in 1995.
(Reporting by Don Chmielewski in Los Angeles – Reporting by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) (Additional reporting by Akash Sriram and Dimple Gulwani in Bengaluru – Reporting by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Josie Cow and William Mallard
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