Byron Allen, the comedian turned media mogul who made a $10 billion offer for some of Walt Disney Co.’s TV channels earlier this month, said regulatory approval is a bigger stumbling block to a deal than raising money to finance it.
(Bloomberg) — Byron Allen, the comedian turned media mogul who made a $10 billion offer for some of Walt Disney Co.’s TV channels earlier this month, said regulatory approval is a bigger stumbling block to a deal than raising money to finance it.
“Capital is not the problem,” Allen said Wednesday at the Code conference in Dana Point, California. “The real commodity is certainty of close, approval of the deal. Not that many people can get that deal through.”
On Sept. 14, Allen offered to buy ABC, its local stations and Disney’s FX and National Geographic networks. Disney is considering its options for the channels, but hasn’t made any decisions about divestiture.
Regulators in Washington have challenged a number of high-profile deals. Earlier this year, TV station owner Tegna Inc. dropped its plan to be acquired by investor Standard General LP after failing to win approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
Allen, who owns a string of media properties, including local TV stations and the Weather Channel, said Washington isn’t interested in letting private equity or hedge funds buy national news services like ABC because they have a history of cutting jobs at local newspapers they’ve purchased. Big technology companies, which have faced increased scrutiny from regulators, would also face challenges.
Tech companies need to stay off regulators’ radar, Allen said. Media companies can’t do deals because of ownership limits.
Allen said legacy media companies are having to reinvent themselves for the streaming era and that’s difficult. Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger is “excellent,” Allen said, but “I’m smelling some weakness.”
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