March 13, 2019 / 12:34 AM / 6 months ago

Mexico backs Disney-Fox deal, orders sale of Fox Sports channels

A screen shows the logo and a ticker symbol for The Walt Disney Company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s telecoms regulator said on Tuesday it had approved the Walt Disney Co’s $71 billion purchase of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s film and television assets, subject to conditions, including the sale of Fox Sports channels.

The Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) said because the combined audiovisual content of the two in the field of “factual” programming on pay TV would be worth more than 40 percent of the market, steps would need to be taken.

That meant ensuring a separation of licensing and provision between Fox’s National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild channels, and the A&E, History, H2 and Lifetime networks of Disney, the IFT said.

“As the accumulation (of market power) is considerable, the finding was that measures of conduct would not be enough, so structural measures were chosen, as occurred in other parts of the world,” the IFT said in a statement.

As a result, the IFT said it had ordered the “divestiture or sale” of the Fox Sports channels and all the assets of that business as a condition to approve the deal.

Disney won a bidding war last year against cable company Comcast Corp to acquire Fox’s assets.

The U.S. Justice Department has said Disney, which owns cable sports network ESPN, must divest Fox’s 22 networks that provide sports programming for regional and local markets.

Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Sandra Maler

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