Disney wins approval to acquire Fox assets

The Kingsman franchise is one of Fox's core properties.                  Twentieth Century Fox

There is one condition, though: under the Justice Department's ruling, Disney must sell all 22 regional sports networks now owned by Fox.

Disney must sell the regional sports networks to a buyer acceptable to the US within 90 days of closing on the Fox deal.

Last week, Fox said it would still consider bids from other companies, even though it believed Disney's new offer was better than Comcast's.

The Hill reported that under the proposed consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, the Justice Department will have to approve of the buyer for the regional sports networks.

Fox and Disney are preparing to go ahead with their deal, which Fox chose over a competing $65 billion bid from cable operator Comcast Corp. earlier this month.

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The approval requires the sale of Fox's regional sports networks in the United States, due to competition concerns, the Justice Department's antitrust division said. Disney has 90 days to seal the acquisition, with an option to extend for another 90 days.

If Disney prevails over Comcast, the combination would expand Disney's unrivaled portfolio of some of the world's most popular characters, uniting Mickey Mouse, Luke Skywalker and Marvel superheroes with Fox's X-Men, "Avatar" and "The Simpsons" franchises. Those would be spun off into a new company, and Disney would acquire 21st Century Fox after the spinoff.

If Disney closes the deal, it will get Fox's movie studio along with cable channels like FX and National Geographic.

Together, Fox's regional sports networks have about 61 million subscribers and have rights to broadcast live games of 44 of 91 USA professional sports teams in three of the four major sports leagues.

Disney and Fox did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast is still technically in the game, and the rival company is deciding whether to come back with a "substantially higher offer" or not to extend the bidding at all.

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