LONDON - Britain's competition watchdog on Friday approved a merger of sports broadcasting businesses of BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery.
The deal to combine BT's sports TV unit with Discovery's Eurosport in Britain and Ireland enables the British company to retain Premier League soccer for its customers, while sharing the burden of expensive broadcast rights.
BT, Britain's biggest broadband and mobile provider, agreed to a sports broadcasting tie-up with Discovery in May after months of discussions with the U.S. media company.
In June, Britain's Competition and Markets Authority started what it calls a Phase 1 investigation on whether the joint venture would reduce competition.
The authority said on Friday it would not refer the deal to a in-depth Phase 2 investigation.
BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery welcomed the decision, which allows them to complete the creation of the joint venture, BT Sport and Eurosport UK, in the coming weeks and to transfer assets to it.
They said it would initially retain their separate brands and products before later bringing them together under a single brand.
BT and Warner Bros. Discovery will be equally represented on the joint venture's board.
The new company will be chaired initially by Marc Allera, chief executive of BT's consumer division. Management will be led by Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Jason Neely and Bradley Perrett)