European regulators approved Walt Disney Co.’s offer to buy 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for $71.3 billion, with the condition that Disney sell its stake in some European TV channels.
The commission found that combining Disney and Fox’s film studios would not present a problem, as they will still face competition from other major studios, including Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros.
In terms of TV, however, the commission believed that combining the two companies would eliminate competition between their respective “factual channels,” a regional term for documentaries and similar programs. For this reason, the conditions require Disney to divest its interest in the History, H2, Crime & Investigation, Blaze, and Lifetime channels in the European Economic Area (EEA) to avoid harming competition. A+E Television, a joint venture between Disney and Hearst, currently runs those channels.
In a statement, Disney said they were “gratified” with the commission’s decision. They will remain a 50 percent owner of A&E, “apart from the companies operating these channels in Europe.”
This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice gave its approval for the merger earlier this year. Forecasts reported that the companies will close the deal in the first half of 2019.