Murdoch says Disney deal is return to lean roots

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Rupert Murdoch says selling much of the 21st Century Fox entertainment businesses to Disney allows what remains of his family’s business to focus on American news and sports.

Murdoch and his sons talked about the deal in a call with investors Thursday. He describes the move as a return to the company’s lean and aggressive roots.

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock, including film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses, as it tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business. The deal doesn’t include the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network.

Murdoch, calling himself a “newsman with a competitive spirit,” says Fox is “probably the strongest brand in all of television” and hasn’t been hurt by losing some of its stars. He says the new company will be centered on live news and sports brands and the strength of the Fox network.

He says, “I know a lot of you are wondering, ‘Why did the Murdochs come to such a momentous decision?’ Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment.”