Disney merger cleared, but sports networks must be sold

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In one scenario, a strategic investor could take on Fox's U.S. assets - including the 20th Century Fox studio and regional sports networks - and leave Comcast with overseas assets.

The move comes as the vigil continues in the high-stakes duel for 21st Century Fox's studio and cable network assets.

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

The deal does not include the nationally broadcast Fox News, Fox Business or Fox Sports networks.

"Disney's proposed acquisition of Fox's assets would combine two of the country's most valuable cable sports properties-Disney's ESPN franchise of networks and Fox's portfolio of Regional Sports Networks ('RSNs')", the complaint said.

The US Justice Department said Wednesday that it had approved the deal on the condition that Disney divest 22 regional sports networks.

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A Comcast spokesman declined to comment on whether it would come up with a new offer, which it has not done over the past week.

The proposed settlement will be considered by a USA federal court for final approval.

This morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast is exploring deals with other companies and private equity firms, looking for options in case the bidding approaches that lofty level. Disney would also get Fox's stake in the streaming service Hulu, along with its stake in the European broadcaster Sky.

"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher", said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

Royals games may be shown on a network other than Fox Sports Kansas City next season.

The approval may make it harder for Comcast to win over Fox, which had rejected an earlier bid over concerns about regulatory scrutiny. Disney's raising of the ante underscores the increasing value of content, following AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. This led to a certain degree of reluctance when Comcast made their official offer.