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After almost three years of study, the National Competition Commission (CNDC) issued its opinion on the merger between ESPN (controlled by Disney) and Fox. The 138-page document establishes a series of conditions that the Mickey Mouse company must meet if it intends to annex the other signal. The main one is to divest. That is to say, that the TV rights of a series of events that were in the head of FOX pass into the hands of another cable TV competitor.

Specifically, one of the measures of the resolution establishes that until the imposed conditions are met (the term is one year, with a possible extension of six months), and according to the statement issued by the CNDC, Disney “must broadcast openly and free of charge (…) two matches of the local soccer league currently broadcast on the Fox Sports premium channel, one of which must necessarily be River or Boca, since these two teams are the ones with the largest call and audience”.

The government gave Fox-Disney a period of one year (extendable for another six months) to complete the divestment process, which implies divesting TV rights from
The government gave Fox-Disney a period of one year (extendable for six more months) to complete the divestment process, which involves divesting itself of TV rights to “relevant content” among which Formula 1, the League of Champions and the Copa Libertadores.Rodrigo Néspolo – Archive

Thus, if the two biggest teams go from now on (and for the next 12 or 18 months) on open TV, we will have to see the viability of the football pack, which millions of subscribers pay month after month to watch the games through Fox Sports Premium and TNT Sports. “Something in the business model of premium football will have to change”, conceded a leader of the first division before the consultation of THE NATION.

Likewise, there is a judicial precedent against which the CNDC could not go, in principle: on February 28, 2018, the Federal Chamber in Administrative Litigation agreed with Fox Sports Premium and Turner, owners of the rights, before a claim of a Posadas cable channel that took refuge in the Audiovisual Services Law and highlighted that no other channel could broadcast the matches of the first division (at that time, the Super League).

Anyway, the sources consulted estimate that the CNDC cannot define which games the soccer pack plays and which ones it does not, and that Disney will most likely refute the ruling in the coming days. “The CNDC’s opinion is far from definitive,” estimated an encrypted TV executive when asked by this newspaper.

In addition to local soccer, there are other sporting events whose TV rights were in the hands of Fox and that the Government establishes as “fundamental content”: Copa Libertadores, UEFA Champions League, NFL (American football), MLB baseball, Formula 1 racing, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Premier Boxing Champions, the ACB Basketball League, the Rugby Sevens World Series and the ATP 250 in Córdoba.

From now on, and according to the CNDC statement “Disney must broadcast openly and free of charge the relevant content of each of the events defined within the fundamental content.” You will have to do this until a buyer appears for each of those rights. A source close to Disney conceded: “The merger will be approved once the conditions stated in the opinion are met.” Of course, there is a long way to go for that. And the story, which began in early 2019 with the first reports requesting the economic concentration operation between the two companies, will continue.

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