Fox Buys Celebrity Gossip Brand TMZ For Less Than $50 Million

AT&T’s Warner Media has sold the celebrity news and gossip brand TMZ to Fox Corp in a deal valued at less than $50 million. The brand, which includes a tabloid website and TV shows operated by Harvey Levin, will join the Murdoch Empire.

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Attorney and former legal TV correspondent Harvey Levin founded the brand in 2005 with the late Warner Bros. TV executive Jim Paratore. They will keep running the day-to-day operations as managing editor Fox has announced.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to The New York Times, three people with knowledge of the discussions said the deal valued TMZ under $50 million. The $50 million valuation is only a fraction of the $100 million to $125 million the Wall Street Journal reported last month the company was being valued at in negotiations.

The sale comes after sources claim Levin had told Warner Media executives that he was unlikely to remain at the company if it continued under the Warner Media umbrella, and Fox quickly emerged as the only realistic buyer, which may explain the somewhat surprising valuation.

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TMZ has been known for its brazen tabloid approach and landing some of the entertainment industry’s biggest scoops, including the deaths of Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant. The brazen approach of the website has resulted in numerous controversies and criticisms, including the publishing of redacted details obtained from the Los Angeles County Coroner regarding the demise of Linkin Park’s frontman  Chester Bennington. In 2013 a TMZ reporter filmed an attack involving Andre Lowe that resulted in his death, the video was posted to the website without the permission of the family and received widespread condemnation.

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Under the deal, Fox will run TMZ’s flagship website and culture website, as well as its syndicated television programs and even the TMZ celebrity bus tours.

Fox already has ties to TMZ as the network is the primary broadcast partner for TMZ shows TMZ on TV and TMZ Live. TMZ has also produced specials for Fox’s entertainment unit, including Harry & Meghan: The Royals in Crisis and UFOs: The Pentagon Proof, and a sports gossip show that is carried by the Fox Sports 1 cable network.

In a statement, Levin said having his operation under Fox Entertainment, “is opening up a world of opportunities for TMZ to grow our current platforms and expand in every which way!”

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Source: NY Times, Hollywood Reporter, Wall Street Journal

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