Disney was last night closing in on a deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment businesses for ?45 billion.

The two sides have been locked in talks for more than a month but could announce a sale within days – with many expecting it to happen next week.

The proposal is said to be preferred by the Murdoch family – who control Fox – over a rival bid by Comcast, as they would rather receive Disney stock as part of the deal. A deal with Disney is also expected to be easier to clear with US competition regulators.

An agreement would break up the media empire built up over several decades by Rupert Murdoch and reshape an industry that has been upended by new entrants such as Netflix and Amazon.

It could potentially see Murdoch's son and Fox's chief executive, James Murdoch, take on a senior executive role at Disney.

There have even been suggestions that he could succeed Bob Iger as chief executive. Iger, 66, has already postponed his retirement three times so far as Disney hunts for a replacement.

It was unclear last night what the deal might mean for Fox's ongoing attempts to gain full control of Sky – it currently holds a 39 per cent stake in the satellite broadcaster.