BSkyB to buy Sky Italia

British satellite television group BSkyB said on Friday it had agreed multi-billion-dollar deals with Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox to create a pan-European pay-TV giant.

BSkyB to buy Sky Italia
Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

This latest shake-up in the sector is seen as a bid by the media mogul to strengthen his European television operations as the telecommunications sector enters the market to screen live football matches featuring some the world's biggest clubs.

BSkyB has agreed to buy 21st Century Fox's 100-percent stake in Sky Italia and its 57.4-percent interest in Sky Deutschland, a statement said. Murdoch's 21st Century Fox media conglomerate currently owns 39 percent of BSkyB.

BSkyB said it planned to acquire the rest of Sky Deutschland from the German group's minority shareholders, creating a pan-European TV giant in deals costing the British group a total of up to £7.0 billion (€8.8 billion) in cash.

"The enlarged company will be a world-class multinational pay TV provider that serves 20 million customers and brings together the leading pay TV businesses in three of Europe's four biggest markets," BSkyB said in the statement.

As part of the tie-up, BSkyB said it would transfer its minority stake in National Geographic Channel to 21st Century Fox at a value of £382 million. 

"By creating the new Sky, we will be able to use our collective strengths and expertise to serve customers better, grow faster and enhance returns," BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said in Friday's statement.

BSkyB is facing intense competition from British telecoms firm BT, which launched its own pay-TV sports channels last year showing English Premier League football.

And BT outgunned BSkyB last November to secure exclusive rights to televise across Britain all of Europe's Champions League and Europa League football matches for three seasons from 2015.

Earlier this year, British mobile phone group Vodafone bought Spanish cable giant Ono for €7.2 billion, having already snapped up Kabel Deutschland, the largest cable operator in Germany, for €7.7 billion in 2013.

US giant Liberty Global took over its British rival Virgin Media last year in a deal worth $23.3 billion.

READ MORE: TV group BSkyB in talks to buy Sky Italia stake

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18-month-old mauled to death by family dogs in Sicily

An 18-month-old boy was killed by two Dogo Argentino, or Argentian Mastiff, dogs in a town near the Sicilian city of Catania on Tuesday.

18-month-old mauled to death by family dogs in Sicily
The Dogo Argentino, which is banned in the UK, was bred in south America specifically to hunt large animals including wild boar. Photo: Douglas Diógenes

The child’s mother, 33, was injured while trying to protect her son during the attack in the family’s home in Mascalucia.

Giorgio Bonarrigo was playing in a paddling pool in the back garden when the dogs attacked, La Stampa reported.

The boy died before medics arrived, the newspaper said. The dogs have been impounded.

“Today is a tragic day for Mascalucia,” Fabio Cantarella, the town’s deputy mayor, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“I ask you to pray for the boy and for the mother who was injured while trying to save him from those ferocious dogs.”

The mother was reportedly alone with her child when the attack happened. She has been placed under investigation “as a formality” in order to be able to proceed with an autopsy of the child's body, Catania prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro was quoted by Corriere as saying. His father, Giuseppe Andrea Bonarrigo, was at work.
The Dogo Argentino, which is banned in the UK, was bred in south America specifically to hunt large animals including wild boar.