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Volume 24 No. 181
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Disney Would Gain Control Of Fox' RSNs Under Deal Sides Are "Closing In On"

Disney and Fox are "closing in on a deal" that would include Disney gaining control of the Fox-operated RSNs, according to CNBC's David Faber. The deal, which could be valued at over $60B, also would see Disney acquire the Fox studios and many Fox networks, but not Fox News, Fox broadcast channel or FS1. The RSNs are valued at $20B "on their own." If Disney “were to do a direct-to-consumer ESPN or all sports," they would "want to own all of these RSNs too and be able to say, ‘You're going to get everything.’” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said, “This notion that ESPN will no longer control the narrative is so important. ... Every time I try to get people excited for Disney, for their children and their grandchildren, they say, ‘Yes, but ESPN is going away.’ ESPN is not going away." Faber notes it appears "more likely than not" that a deal will be reached. Sources said that an agreement could be announced "as soon as next week" (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 12/5). REUTERS' Roumeliotis & Toonkel report a deal with Fox would give Disney "more shows and movies for television and online distribution" at a time when companies like Amazon and Netflix are "spending billions to bulk up on programming." Sources said that Comcast "remains in contention" for the Fox assets, but the Murdoch family "prefers a deal with Disney because it would rather be paid in Disney than Comcast stock." A source added that the Murdochs also expect a deal with Disney "to be cleared by U.S. antitrust regulators more easily" (REUTERS, 12/5).