June 6 Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has
taken full control of its Asian joint venture ESPN STAR Sports
(ESS), buying out Walt Disney Co's 50 percent share to
end a 16-year partnership in the region.
ESS has rights to this year's Olympics in London and also
screens Formula One motor races, another of the top attractions
in global sport. News Corp has a long history of using sports
rights to drive growth of its TV operations.
"News Corporation's acquisition of the interest of ESS that
we did not already own ... furthers our commitment to delivering
incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe, and
particularly enhancing our position in sports programming in
emerging markets," said James Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Peter Hutton, senior vice president of sports for News
Corp's FOX International Channels, will take over as managing
director of ESS.
He will succeed Manu Sawhney, who will stay on until the end
of August, after the Olympics, having w orked for the venture
since it was set up.
"After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to
independently pursue future opportunities in Asia," said John
Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman, Disney Media
"With the growing digital landscape in Asia, we look forward
to continuing to serve Asian sports fans through ESPN-branded
digital businesses like ESPNCricinfo, the leading digital
cricket brand in the world, ESPNFC and ESPN Mobile."
ESS operates 28 broadcast networks in 24 Asian countries,
including a number focused on cricket, one of the biggest sports
in the region.
It agreed a new seven-year deal on Monday with the England
and Wales Cricket Board to broadcast England home games in Asia
and North Africa.