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Disney said to renew Fox talks as Murdoch dance continues

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Walt Disney Co renewed discussions over acquiring a significant part of 21st Century Fox Inc's media assets, according to a person familiar with the talks.

[LOS ANGELES] Walt Disney Co renewed discussions over acquiring a significant part of 21st Century Fox Inc's media assets, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Disney joins companies including Comcast Corp looking to buy a piece of the Murdoch family's empire. The discussions are said to include the 20th Century Fox film studio and Fox's stake in UK satellite provider Sky Plc, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The talks don't include Fox News, the Fox broadcast network or the Fox Sports 1 channel.

The family aims to make a decision on whether to do a deal by the end of the year, the person said.  The Murdochs - Rupert Murdoch, 86, and his sons James and Lachlan, Fox's executive chairman - are considering a sale as the market values the group behind more slowly growing peers.

A deal would reshape the entertainment landscape by putting channels such as FX and rights to characters such as the X-Men into Disney's hands. James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox's chief executive officer, has had to battle a series of scandals at the company, including sexual harassment allegations at the top of Fox News.

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Deal discussions come even as the US Justice Department is suing to block AT&T Inc's proposed US$85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. The government has said the merger of a large TV distributor and producer would stifle competition and hurt consumers.

A deal with Disney might overcome some of those challenges. Disney doesn't sell TV services directly to consumers in the US. Chief executive officer Robert Iger has had success acquiring movie studios such as Pixar Animation and Lucasfilm Ltd and a Fox deal could give Disney a controlling stake in the Hulu video-streaming service.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported a renewal of the Disney talks.

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