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A Disney-Vice deal would look good to Shane Smith.
“It makes sense for them and it makes sense for us,” the Vice CEO told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday at the Edinburgh TV Festival when asked about rumors that the Walt Disney Company could snap up the 82 percent of his growing media company that it doesn’t already own.
He added: “And then I could finally say Rupert Murdoch doesn’t f—ing own Vice.”
Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in 2013 bought a 5 percent stake in the company.
His comments came a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that Disney’s 18 percent stake in the youth-focused media company has led to chatter that the entertainment giant would ultimately acquire the company outright. But it also emphasized that Disney hasn’t made any offers.
“Next year it’s going to be a f—ing bloodbath,” he said of the ongoing media consolidation, pointing to rumors that 21st Century Fox is set to make another bid for Time Warner, which he suggested was looking to avoid being bought out by making a “counter bid” for Viacom, and then there’s Apple reportedly having kicked the tires of both Time Warner and Netflix.
“In the next six months, everyone’s going to try to buy everyone else, and we’re going laugh our heads off,” said Smith. “And if Viacom continues its f—ing Shakespearean implosion, which is a glory for me to watch, you’re going to have everyone snapping off bits.”
As for Disney’s rumored Vice purchase, Smith said he faced a conundrum: to either stay independent or sell while the company is at “the peak of media valuations.”
“Do I do something that’s good with me, stay independent, or do I do something that’s good for the shareholders, and probably the company going forward?” he asked.
“I can stay independent, I am the largest shareholder … it’s good for me as a megalomaniac. I’m set for life,” said Smith. But, while he said Vice was “recession-proof,” he predicted another major economic downturn that would mean an eight-year wait before nearing the same valuation again.
“And if you pull the rug out from people just when they’re getting back on their feet, it’s going to be a lot f—ing worse [than the previous recession],” said Smith. “There’s going to be profound political change. And as a new one-percenter … last in, first out.”
As for Trump, Smith was predictably outspoken, blaming failings of the mainstream media and its lust for ratings for his rise to political prominence.
“The whole collusion between CNN and Trump is a perfect example of what’s wrong in media today,” he said.
Preparing for his MacTaggart Lecture, the Edinburgh festival’s prestigious keynote set to be held Wednesday evening at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Smith said he “got scared” watching previous speakers (who have included the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Mark Thompson and, last year, Armando Iannucci), suggesting it was the first time he’d ever actually written a speech.
“Usually I have five bullet points, half a bottle of whiskey and then go on a rant,” he joked.
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