Brazil regulator rules Disney must sell Fox Sports along with media rights

Brazil’s antitrust regulator Cade has approved Walt Disney Company’s $71.3bn (€62.9bn) takeover of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, subject to Disney selling the Fox Sports channel in the country, along with its associated sports rights.

Cade’s ruling, made on February 27, represents one of the final regulatory hurdles for the Disney-Fox deal and comes after reports last week that an agreement was imminent.

Disney has agreed to sell not only Fox Sports, but also the prized rights it holds in Brazil, which includes the Copa Libertadores continental club football competition through to 2022. This will address concerns that Disney would otherwise establish a dominant position in the Brazilian sports media market through ownership of both ESPN and Fox Sports.

The Concentration Control Agreement (ACC) outlines that assets to be divested include all rights to air sports events owned by Fox Sports, all contracts with pay-television operators, key employees, real estate and broadcast equipment. The deadline for Disney to agree such a sale wasn’t disclosed.

Cade said in a statement: “The sale of the Fox Sports channel aims to allow the market structure to remain with the same competitive pressure prior to the merger, with the continuation of three sports channel options for consumers in Brazil: SporTV (GloboSat), ESPN and a new company with the assets of Fox Sports.

“Under the ACC agreement, Disney still undertakes, for a limited period of time, not to (acquire rights) to the sports leagues currently broadcast by Fox Sports and not to repurchase the assets to be sold. It also commits itself to offer the future buyer the option of free licensing of the Fox brand.”

Cade said it had also discussed antitrust consequences of the deal with regulators in Mexico and Chile.