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News UK and BT fail to agree potential tie-up

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Tuesday 22 Jun 2021

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - News UK held talks with telecoms giant BT Group about a prospective commercial partnership, it emerged on Tuesday.
The Rupert Murdoch-controlled media group, which publishes The Sun and The Times, was interested in a potential tie-up with BT Sport, as first reported by the Daily Telegraph.

Lazard was appointed as advisor, but the discussions ended before a deal was secured.

A News UK spokesperson confirmed: "News UK held an early stage discussion with BT Sport to explore limited, commercial partnership opportunities. It is not pursuing those discussions any further." BT has so far declined to comment.

BT, the UK's largest broadband and mobile operator, moved into sports broadcasting after it secured the rights to show a number of live Premier League matches in 2012.

However, under chief executive Philip Jansen, BT is now looking to move away from television - including reducing its exposure to football rights auctions - and refocus on its broadband offering. It was reported to be in talks to sell a stake in the unit in April.

News UK, meanwhile, is increasing its broadcast offering through Wireless Group, the owner of Talk Sport and Virgin Radio, which it acquired in 2016. News UK also launched digital station Times Radio last year.

It has explored launching its own dedicated TV news channel, but plans were abandoned earlier this year after it was decided it would not be commercially viable.

News UK is owned by News Corp.

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