Disney told to offload channels in Europe to complete Fox swoop
The European Commission has cleared US media giant Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of majority of the assets of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox media and entertainment group, albeit with conditions attached.
Regulators had expressed concern over how the merger would have affected competition between “two strong suppliers of ‘factual channels’ in several European Economic Area (EEA) Member States,” the commission said in a statement.
To address those concerns, Disney has agreed to sell off its A&E channels, which include the History, Crime + Investigation, Blaze and Lifetime channels in Europe.
The commission said its decision is “conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.”
Disney said in a statement: “We are gratified by the decision of the European Commission to clear the transaction with the sole remedial measure being the divesting of our interests in Europe of the History, H2, Crime + Investigation, Blaze and Lifetime channels.
“Disney will continue to be a 50% owner of A&E apart from the companies operating these channels in Europe. We continue to pursue clearance as quickly as possible in the jurisdictions that remain.”
In June, the US Department of Justice gave approval for the Disney deal, on the condition that it sold off Fox’s 22 US regional sports networks, which show games played by 44 professional teams across MLB, the NBA and the NHL,
Late last month, it emerged that Fox is one of the leading contenders to acquire the networks in what would essentially represent a buyback, with the line-up of prospective bidders also including large media companies, sports teams, private equity firms and a consortium fronted by rap singer Ice Cube, according to the Wall Street Journal.