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Justice Department approves Disney-Fox merger

Disney has cleared another major hurdle in its quest to buy 21st Century Fox.

The Department of Justice on Wednesday okayed Disney's $71 billion offer for Fox, provided Disney divests from Fox's regional sports networks, The New York Times reports. Fox already preferred Disney's massive bid to Comcast's because it presented fewer regulatory concerns, and said so when Disney made the offer last week.

Comcast made its $65 billion cash-only bid two weeks ago in response to a $52.4 billion all-stock Disney offer made in December. That led Disney to bump its offer to the current $71.3 billion in cash and stock. Regardless of the price tag, Fox publicly rebuffed the "higher regulatory risk" associated with Comcast's bid, per USA Today. A Disney-Fox deal seemed promising, given the recently DOJ-approved AT&T-Time Warner union.

The Justice Department's approval had one condition, per the Times: Because Disney owns ESPN, it will have to divest from Fox's 22 regional sports networks. Comcast could still put in another offer, but the company's already-massive debt and Fox's willingness to work with Disney could steer it away.

If the Disney-Fox merger continues as planned, Disney will acquire the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, Fox's cable channels, and U.K.-based Sky News. Fox News, Fox Sports, and other local TV channels will unite under a new company umbrella.