(an unidentfied female, Howie Schwab and Jeff from The Jewish give their regulatory approval to Disney’s latest acquisition)

A day after British Telecom announced their intent to bring “on demand” ala carte Premiership football programming into the homes of those who’ve found the charms of Sky and NTL otherwise elusive, The Worldwide Leader have dropped a bombshell of their own. From the San Diego Union Tribune / AP :

ESPN agreed to buy cable channel NASN in an effort to broadcast more American sports in Europe.

ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. The deal will allow Disney to expand ESPN operations in Europe, which are limited to its ESPN Classic channel, a soccer Web site and a business that sells some sports shows to other European networks.

ESPN did not reveal the terms of the deal Tuesday with the channel’s current owners, Benchmark Capital Europe and Setanta Sports, a sports broadcaster based in Ireland.

Previously, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Media was one of NASN’s major investors. Until recently, a number of ESPN programs (“Pardon The Interuption”, “Baseball Tonight”, “NFL Live”) were NASN staples. Presumably, the formal purchase by Bristol U. will bring the smiling faces of Tony Kornheiser, Sean Salisbury and Stephen A. Smith back into European homes.

The introduction of NASN dramatically increased the amount of MLB, NHL and collegiate hoops coverage on UK TV. Whether or not “The Tim McCarver Show” will remain a fixture on the channel remains to be seen, but in these sensitive times, I don’t think it would be a good idea to further provoke the enemies of freedom.