May 2, 2019 / 11:50 PM / 2 months ago

Sinclair to buy Disney's sports networks in $10 billion deal: WSJ

(Reuters) - Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc, the largest U.S. broadcast station owner, has reached a deal valued at more than $10 billion to buy 21 regional sports networks from Walt Disney Co, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The deal, which would include sports channels in Los Angeles and Detroit, is expected to be announced as early as Friday, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Disney and Sinclair were not immediately available for comment.

Disney acquired the sports networks as part of its $71 billion acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s film and television assets.

The company agreed to sell the networks after the U.S. Justice Department said Disney, which owns cable sports network ESPN, must divest the Fox networks that provide sports programming for regional and local markets.

Disney closed the acquisition of Fox’s film and television assets in March, nearly a year after it won a bidding war against cable company Comcast Corp .

The potential deal for Disney’s sports networks would come after Tribune Media Co terminated the sale of 42 TV stations in 33 markets to Sinclair last year.

Other suitors for Disney’s channels included Liberty Media Corp and Big 3 Basketball LLC, whose management includes Jeff Kwatinetz and rapper and actor Ice Cube, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler

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