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Photo: Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Sprint and T-Mobile are closing on a $26 billion merger that could be announced as soon as Sunday, CNBC reports.

Why it's a big deal: Because this would create the country's second-largest wireless carrier. Assuming, of course, that it passes regulatory muster.

Third time's a charm: Sprint and T-Mobile have been through two prior sets of negotiations, the last one of which ended just weeks before U.S. regulators sued to block AT&T's proposed purchase of Time Warner.

  • This time around, they likely needed to get a deal in place prior to November, when a new wireless spectrum auction is expected and M&A activity would be suspended.

The combined company's size would be on par with industry leaders AT&T and Verizon. Regulatory approval is the obvious wildcard, but the wireless market is seen as more nationally competitive than cable (even though AT&T was blocked from its own attempted purchase of T-Mobile in 2011).

Bottom line: If regulators do object, it's much more likely to come from the Department of Justice than from the FCC.

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.