The United States Department of Justice on Wednesday approved Walt Disney’s proposal to buy media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s firm 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion (approximately Rs 4.9 lakh crore), Reuters reported. Fox had accepted the bid from Walt Disney last week for its movie and television assets.
The approval came on the condition that Disney must sell Fox’s regional sports networks as they could form a monopoly in sports broadcasting, as Disney already owns ESPN.
The winning offer outbids United States cable company Comcast in acquiring the assets. The assets being acquired include those of FX Networks, National Geographic and over 300 international channels. The deal, however, does not include Fox News, Fox Business or Fox Sports networks.
Disney owns ABC, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Star Wars producer Lucasfilm. The company said it was “pleased” with the approval and looked forward to creating “even more compelling consumer experiences”.
The deal comes after a court rejected the US government’s objections to telecom company AT&T’s takeover of Fox’s rival Time Warner. Both Disney and Comcast were looking to use the Fox assets to bolster their content and expand overseas.
In December, Fox struck an all-stock deal with Disney worth $52.4 billion (Rs 3.36 lakh crore), shortly after rebuffing an offer from Comcast – the largest cable company and broadband provider in the United States – that was worth roughly $60 billion. In February, Comcast submitted a £22.1-billion (approximately Rs 2 lakh crore) bid to buy British broadcasting company Sky, challenging an existing offer from Murdoch’s company.
The bidding war reflects an industry under threat from Silicon Valley, home to technology companies such as Netflix and Amazon that increasingly have more viewers, advertisement money and creative talent. Disney had also announced it will launch its own Netflix-like streaming services this year.