USA gives Disney-Fox deal antitrust approval

28 June, 2018, 08:44 | Author: Kristine Mills
  • Disney can buy 21st Century Fox for $71 billion feds say

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the DOJ "approved Walt Disney's partial merger with 21st Century Fox, but said Disney must sell Fox's regional sports networks as those, coupled with ESPN, could form a monopoly in sports broadcasting".

Disney agreed to divest the 22 sports networks in order to get regulatory approval after the Justice Department argued that the companies purchase of Fox's regional sports networks could result in higher prices for sports programming on cable.

The agreement to sell the RSNs was disclosed as part of a consent decree between Disney and the Justice Department - which filed suit to block the deal.

Disney has taken another step closer to completing its deal to buy Fox's entertainment assets.

The news further paves the way for Disney to win the bid for Fox assets, for which it offered $71.3 billion last week in a mix of cash and stock, countering Comcast's all-cash offer of $65 billion earlier in the month.

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Fox originally planned to vote on a deal at a July 10 shareholder meeting, but postponed it after Disney's last offer, giving Comcast more time for another bid. FOX News isn't covered by the deal, however.

It's not hard to imagine that Comcast executives haven't at least thought about divesting the most core of their assets, as they look to find ways to finance a bidding war that some analysts say could go as high as $90 billion. "We are pleased that the DoJ concluded that, with the exception of the proposed acquisition of the Fox Sports Regional Networks, the transaction will not harm competition".

The Fox sale to Disney would include 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, cable entertainment networks, and global properties including Star in India and Fox's 39-percent ownership of Sky across Europe.

21st Century Fox is the next big prize as the media industry consolidates to survive against competitors such as Netflix and Facebook. Comcast did not formalize its cash bid until the Department of Justice was defeated in court in its attempt to stop AT&T's acquisition of Time-Warner.

"Today's settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution".

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