After reports earlier this month that Disney was interested in buying certain 21st Century Fox assets, Comcast has reportedly now approached Fox about a deal for those assets.
For sale would be Fox’s film and television studios, international assets like Sky and Star, and Fox’s cable networks including FX and National Geographic as well as the company’s stake in Hulu (of which Comcast and Disney are both co-owners). According to CNBC, the deal would not include Fox’s broadcast network, Fox’s sports programming or the Fox News or Business channels.
Verizon and Sony are also reportedly interested in the same set of assets.
The Wall Street Journal also reported on Comcast’s interest in Fox and said that the Fox-Disney talks were no longer ongoing.
A Comcast-Fox deal, similar to a Disney-Fox deal, would have to get around the same regulatory issues.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who is currently running the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, would be in charge of reviewing any potential deal between the companies. And if his recent comments suggest anything, it’s that he would push for divestitures before giving his OK.
Delrahim gave a speech Thursday at the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Fall Forum and specifically called out the DOJ’s conditions on Comcast’s 2009 acquisition of NBCUniversal.
“At the beginning of the last administration, the Division entered into several behavioral consent decrees to resolve vertical issues, such as those in Comcast/NBCU, Google/ITA, and LiveNation/TicketMaster. Several observers took issue with this regulatory approach to antitrust enforcement,” Delrahim said. “Without getting into specifics, I can say that behavioral remedies have proven challenging to enforce. In recent years, the Division has investigated a number of behavioral decree violations, but has found it onerous to collect information or satisfy the exacting standards of proving contempt and seeking relief.”
This article was updated to include information about Verizon's and Sony's reported interest in the Fox assets.