NEW YORK – Liberty Media Corp. will gain control over the satellite television broadcaster DirecTV Group Inc. (DTV) in a deal that will settle a long-running dispute between two powerful media figures, Rupert Murdoch and John Malone, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Murdoch, who controls News Corp. (NWS), has reached a verbal agreement with Malone to swap News Corp.'s 39 percent interest in DirecTV for Liberty's 19 percent voting stake in News Corp., according to the person who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been announced.
The agreement, assuming it is finalized, would settle a showdown that has been brewing for two years between two of the most powerful figures in the media industry.
The person said the deal would likely be announced within two weeks, confirming reports Thursday in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The deal had been widely expected and was discussed by the two parties for several months.
Malone surprised Murdoch two years ago by suddenly accumulating a stake in News Corp.'s voting shares, potentially challenging Murdoch's control of the global media conglomerate he built. News Corp. adopted anti-takeover defense measures that were later challenged by shareholders.
In addition to News Corp.'s controlling stake in DirecTV, the person said Malone's Liberty Media will also get three regional cable sports channels and $550 million in cash. The deal was designed to save both parties huge tax bills since it is structured as a swap instead of a sale of assets.
News Corp. is the parent company of FOX News, which operates FOXNews.com.