The United States Department of Justice has approved Disney's bid to purchase 21st Century Fox's media assets.
The approval of the sale carries one caveat: Disney must divest Fox's 22 regional sports networks from its portfolio to comply with federal antitrust laws. Disney is already the parent company of ESPN, meaning if they were take over Fox's local sports programming it could constitute a monopoly on sports broadcasting in markets where Fox Sports and ESPN are direct competitors.
“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 DOJ’s Antitrust Division in a statement. “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.”
Though the Department of Justice's approval now means the Disney/Fox deal may move forward, 21st Century Fox must still decide whether to take Disney's offer or sell its assets to Comcast who recently topped Disney's offer, triggering a new bid from the Walt Disney Corporation.