Disney merger cleared, but sports networks must be sold

21st Century Fox thinks Comcast bid is riskier than Disney

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Fox last week accepted a sweetened bid from Disney, which upped its offer following Comcast's competing $65 billion bid.

The deal became possible when Rupert Murdoch, 87, and his sons made a decision to slim down their media-entertainment empire, leaving them with the Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and some sports cable operations.

The deal is for 21st Century Fox's assets and will net the buyer a variety of cable channels, such as the popular FX, as well as multiple highly successful film franchises, global TV networks, and similar entertainment offerings.

As part of the settlement, Disney will have to sell off 22 of Fox's regional sports networks.

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The Justice Department said without the sale of the 22 regional sports networks, the deal may have led to higher prices for cable sports watchers in local markets, where Fox and Disney now compete.

The Walt Disney Co. has won US antitrust approval for its $71.3 billion bid for Twenty-First Century Fox's entertainment assets.

A Fox spokesman declined to comment.

"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programing that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher", said assistant attorney general for antitrust Makan Delrahim.

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But Fox said it planned to proceed with Disney, after the firm raised its own offer to $71bn.

The proposed settlement will be considered by a U.S. federal court for final approval. The Department of Justice has officially approved the latest Disney bid of $71.3 billion, as long as the Mouse House agrees to one condition.

Wednesday's news comes about two weeks after the Justice Department lost its attempt in court to stop AT&T from buying CNN parent company Time Warner.

The sale would not include assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, the Fox Sports national networks (FS1 and FS2), and Fox Broadcasting Company.

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Fox said the amended agreement was superior to Comcast's proposal, but shareholders still need to vote on the matter and Comcast could still return with a higher offer.

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