Rupert Murdoch’s Times and the Sunday Times should to free to merge editorial departments, the government has ruled.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said he was “minded” to allow News UK’s request that two newspapers should be allowed to share journalism resources.
When the papers were bought in 1981 Mr Murdoch gave legal undertakings to keep the the papers separate.
But News UK has argued that the competitive landscape has changed, especially in the digital era.
The papers employ 505 people between them.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport will now take more evidence before a final verdict.
Mr Wright said in a statement: “I am… minded to accept News UK’s application. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements