Rupert Murdoch-controlled Twenty-First Century Fox has held talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co, CNBC reported on Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Fox's shares rose 5.8 per cent to $26.40 US in afternoon trading, after being halted in the morning when the report came out. Disney's shares were up 1.2 pct at $99.86 US.

The CNBC report said the two sides were not talking currently, but had held talks in the last few weeks, reflecting a view among Fox managers that the firm could not gain the size needed to compete with Amazon, Netflix and other major media players.

A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment while Fox was not immediately available for comment. Disney, which under U.S. rules could not own two broadcast networks, would not purchase all of Fox, CNBC reported, citing the same sources.

Disney would not seek to buy Fox's sports programming assets for fear of running foul of antitrust laws with its own ESPN network, and would also not buy Fox News or Fox's local broadcasting affiliates due to Disney's ownership of ABC, the report said.

In addition to the movie studio, TV production and international assets such as Star and B Sky B, Disney would take entertainment network FX and National Geographic, the report added.

The deal would leave Fox as a smaller company more focused on news and sports, not entertainment programming and movies.

Twenty-First Century Fox has a total valuation of $48 billion US, but the assets it would be buying are valued at about half that, Needham analyst Laura Martin told the network.

"Disney is a better operator," she said. "These studios are worth so much more when they consolidate, [it's a] good deal for everybody."

With files from CBC News