July 16, 2014
Batman Meets Jack Bauer: Fox, Time Warner Had Mega-Merger Talks, Rupert Murdoch To Expand Empire

Batman vs. Jack Bauer? How about a Game of ThronesPlanet of the Apes crossover? The Simpsons meet Bugs Bunny?

All of those strange combinations could soon be possible if media mega-mogul Rupert Murdoch gets his way. Murdoch's 21st Century Fox media company, which owns Fox Studios, the Fox Network, Fox News, and many other powerhouse media and entertainment companies, confirmed Wednesday that it had made a staggering $80 billion bid to buy out rival Time Warner.

Though the offer was spurned last month by the New York-based Time Warner, headed by CEO Jeff Bewkes, Murdoch, according to a New York Times report, isn't ready to give up, and is still "determined" to add the Time Warner collection of companies to his portfolio.

Those companies include, of course, the Warner Bros movie studio as well as cable TV networks HBO, TBS and TNT — and DC Entertainment, which owns all of the DC Comics characters, including such valuable properties as Batman, Superman, and the Justice League.

Though under terms of the deal that was rebuffed in June by the Time Warner board of directors, the two movie studios would have remained — at least for now — independent of each other. But a single company that controlled both the Fox and Warner Bros motion picture and television operations would instantly become the dominant force in Hollywood and, arguably, in the entire global entertainment industry.

The bid for Time Warner was rejected in June, according to The Wall Street Journal, and would have seen the 83-year-old Murdoch pay, via 21st Century Fox, $85 per share of Time Warner stock — a deal estimated to come to about $80 billion in all — and would create a company with annual revenues between $60 billion and $70 billion.

Time Warner was the publisher of Time Magazine as well as other Time Inc. publications such as People Magazine and Sports Illustrated, until last month when it divorced itself from its print media arm, allowing Time Inc. to become its own, independent corporation.

In 2013, 21st Century Fox, which was then called News Corp., split from its publishing division — now still called News Corp. — which owns The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, the book publisher HarperCollins, and dozens more publications around the world.

One Time Warner company that 21st century Fox would not acquire would be the venerable, 24-hour cable news channel CNN. Because Fox already owns the competing news channel Fox News, the new, combined company would sell off CNN as part of the mega-merger. TV networks CBS and ABC are reported to be eyeing CNN already, Variety notes.

Last week, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes was asked by reporters about a potential buyout bid coming from Fox, and replied, "I know nothing about it." Apparently, that was a lie.