Disney denied an “unfounded” report that it was in active discussions to sell ABC, noting that “no decision” has been made about divesting the broadcast network and its stations.
“While we are open to considering a variety of strategic options for our linear businesses, at this time The Walt Disney Company has made no decision with respect to the divestiture of ABC or any other property and any report to that effect is unfounded,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The clarification follows a Bloomberg report published Thursday morning that said the entertainment giant has had “exploratory,” “initial” discussions with Nexstar Media Group regarding a potential sale of ABC. Nexstar currently owns fellow broadcast network The CW, alongside a variety of local broadcast stations.
While Disney denied the report, Nexstar Media Group senior advisor Tom Carter said earlier this week the company would be open to buying ABC TV stations should they be available for sale.
Despite already meeting the 39% cap on station ownership by one company, put in place by the Federal Communications Commission, Carter remained hopeful that ABC’s “modest” portfolio could seamlessly be added to the company.
“ABC’s portfolio stations is modest. It’s only eight, largely in the top 10 markets. We’re in eight of the top 10 markets already,” he said at an investor conference hosted by Bank of America on Wednesday. “So we could buy a second station in that market and not increase our household footprint. There may be a few stations that would require divestiture – either a Nexstar station or an ABC station – but we could onboard those with relatively little friction.”
Later in the call, Carter brought up questions that might come with a potential acquisition of ABC. These include how Disney’s intertwined programming for linear and streaming might function should a sale take place, as channels like ESPN currently simulcast sports on ABC.
Nexstar declined to comment on the report.
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