The Walt Disney Co. said in a statement Thursday that it is “open to considering a variety of strategic options for our linear businesses,” but shot down a report that it was in active discussions to sell its ABC broadcast network and stations.
“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,” the statement continued.
More from The Hollywood Reporter
The statement followed a Bloomberg report that said Disney had held “initial” talks about a sale of ABC and its local stations to Nexstar, the local TV giant and owner of The CW network.
The Bloomberg story and subsequent Disney pushback came after Tom Carter, a former Nexstar executive and current adviser to the company, told a Bank of America conference Wednesday that should Disney’s ABC stations become available, Nexstar would be able to buy them with “little friction.”
“We think there could be some opportunities depending on how things fall out,” Carter added.
Disney CEO Bob Iger got the M&A rumor mill rumbling in July, when he told CNBC that Disney’s linear TV channels, including ABC, “may not be core” to the company’s business anymore, calling the distribution model “broken.”
“Transformative work is dealing with businesses that are no-growth businesses and what to do about them, and particularly the linear business, which we are expansive in our thinking about,” Iger told CNBC.
He subsequently tapped former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs to help advise the company on its linear TV options.
Of course, Disney’s recent carriage deal with Charter Communications has the potential to alter some of the company’s thinking on the matter. The cable company pitched a new model that could “stabilize” the pay TV ecosystem, with Disney+ becoming available to Spectrum TV customers.
It is not clear how a sale of ABC or Disney’s other linear channels could impact that agreement, should such a deal come to fruition.
Best of The Hollywood Reporter