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Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

U.K. regulators are inclined to allow 21st Century Fox's pursuit of majority ownership Sky UK — so long as it agrees to divest Sky News — Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matthew Hancock announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's taken regulators over a year to come to this decision, but now that they've made it, Fox has some clarity over whether it will be able to next fend off Comcast's rival bid for the property.

The big picture: Regulators have previously suggested that the acquisition would not be in the public's best interest due to media plurality concerns. 21st Century Fox has since made a number of proposed concessions, including divesting Sky News to Disney, which is looking to purchase Fox's entertainment assets in the US for $52 billion.

  • Hancock says the divestiture of Sky News would need to be made to a "suitable third party" but that Fox would need to still provide funding for the network for the next decade.
  • He acknowledged critics that say they are worried about whether the divestitures will be suitable enough to address plurality concerns. Hancock says he is looking to nail down details about the divestiture in "the next fortnight" before pursuing further actions.

Fox currently owns 39% of Sky and is looking to acquire majority ownership to give its potential new owner, Walt Disney Co. The main advantage for Disney would be that it would acquire Sky's international streaming assets, with would help a combined Disney/Fox company take on tech giants, like Netflix and Amazon.

  • In response to the news, Fox says "21CF has already submitted proposed undertakings to achieve the divestiture of Sky News to Disney.  We note that the Secretary of State agrees with this solution and has instructed officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) to agree final undertakings that he would be prepared to accept and consult on within the two-week timeframe. We now look forward to engaging with DCMS and we are confident that we will reach a final decision clearing our transaction."

American rival Comcast recently announced a $31 billion takeover bid for Sky, which subsequently pulled its support for an already agreed-upon deal with 21st Century Fox. Comcast's bid was 16% higher than Fox's, on a share vs. share basis.

What's next: Now that Fox and Comcast are basically on equal footing in meeting regulatory standards to pursue the acquisition, Fox will likely need to adjust its bid to more closely match Comcast's.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

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