Breakingviews

BBC needs good pruning, not root-and-branch change

July 16, 2015

UK lawmakers are questioning the broadcaster's remit. Its 3.7 bln stg pseudo-state funding is anticompetitive. But while the BBC, like the monarchy and NHS, comes from another era, reformers need to be careful. A "bonsai" BBC – smaller and stronger – might be worth cultivating.

Charter deal may not be final word on Bright House

March 31, 2015

The $10.4 bln acquisition, contingent on Comcast buying Time Warner Cable, suggests some confidence those rivals will get approval. If not, however, the U.S. cable puzzle could realign. Charter again might chase Time Warner Cable, which actually has first dibs on Bright House.

Netflix stock horror follows familiar script

October 16, 2014

The film and TV streaming service lost $7 billion of market value after it signed up fewer new subscribers than expected. Even for one of the most-shorted and volatile stocks, a 25 percent decline is notable. And yet investors have seen this movie many times before.

Anarchical Vice Media makes orthodoxy a virtue

September 5, 2014

The bad boy of news and entertainment is now worth $2.5 bln. Unlike some Silicon Valley upstarts, though, Vice sold more than a sliver of itself and raised real money: $500 mln. Disney, Hearst and Fox are among its backers. For all the iconoclasm, there are old-school traits.

TV broadcasters missing big picture in Aereo fight

August 29, 2014

CBS, Disney and others oppose the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup’s rebirth as a cable firm. But conceding could put online services and, say, Time Warner Cable on equal legal footing and create more competition for content. That’s a win for viewers and networks alike.

Cisco’s John Chambers falls off the M&A wagon

March 15, 2012

Less than a year ago, the networking giant’s boss, in an unusual mea culpa, forswore big deals and promised discipline. Now, he’s shelling out $5 bln for NDS, a pay TV software firm. But this acquisition might deliver justifiable returns and fit nicely with Cisco’s strategy.

Taiwanese money can’t save Japan from Samsung

March 29, 2012

Foxconn’s $1.6 bln investment into Sharp buys Japan’s electronics company time. But there’s a huge glut in flat-panel screens and the likes of Sharp, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba may be fighting a losing battle against the Koreans. As Hitachi has shown, it may be best to withdraw.

Comcast deal extends content’s precarious reign

July 11, 2012

Feuds between U.S. TV program creators and distributors are as ugly as the one in “Hatfields & McCoys.” So the $19 bln valuation implied by Comcast’s sale of a stake in the hit show’s parent company A&E is impressive. But fee fights like DirecTV and Viacom’s are the future.

Disney chief’s unlikely fairy godfather: Murdoch

November 21, 2012

With News Corp snapping up a piece of the Yankees TV network, Bob Iger’s battle with Rupert Murdoch is becoming more intense. But News Corp’s rich price for the deal implies a punchy valuation for Disney’s much-coveted ESPN. That could make the whole Magic Kingdom worth more.

Liberty pushes envelope for post-crisis M&A debt

February 6, 2013

The U.S. media group is funding the cash element of its $23 bln Virgin offer by gearing up its target. Almost $8 bln of new debt will be issued with the deal. Overall leverage may still be below pre-crisis multiples. But it’s a big moment - and could beget more levered M&A.