A strategic investor could team up with Comcast, taking on the U.S. Fox assets that are in play-including the Twentieth Century Fox studio and regional sports networks-while leaving Comcast with worldwide businesses such as European pay TV giant Sky PLC and Star India. Together with ESPN, which it already owns, Disney would have had too tight a grip on the sports market, the Justice Department maintained.
That approval comes contingent on Disney selling Fox's 22 regional sports networks that are part of the deal.
Disney and Comcast have been sparring over who will get assets that include production companies responsible for "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family", film production businesses and a key stake in the online platform Hulu.
Last week it was reported that Disney had increased its bid for Fox to $71.3 billion. Fox is reluctant to sell to Comcast because of concerns about obtaining regulatory approval of such a deal. The deal also has to be approved by shareholders of both companies and faces other regulatory reviews, while Comcast can still make a larger counter offer. If it continues to escalate, Comcast is exploring the option of becoming tied up with other companies or private investors in order to raise enough cash to outbid Disney should the bidding ever reach the $90 billion range.
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The deal became possible when Rupert Murdoch, 87, and his sons chose to slim down their media-entertainment empire, leaving them with the Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and some sports cable operations.
Disney has taken another step closer to completing its deal to buy Fox's entertainment assets.
It's the latest chapter in a story that began in December, when Disney bid $52 billion in stock for 21st Century Fox's movie studios, a stake in the streaming service Hulu, cable TV channels such as FX, and global TV properties.
Included in the planned sale is Fox's 39 percent stake in the British pay TV operator Sky.
The DOJ's court filings included this map of Fox's regional sports networks.