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Fox proposes selling Sky News to Disney

04 April, 2018, 01:11 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • CREDIT Courtesy of Sky

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has offered to sell Sky's news channel to Disney in the hope of winning political approval for its proposed £18.5bn takeover of the United Kingdom broadcaster.

In a bid to alleviate the CMA's concerns, Fox has recommended either a legal separation and ringfencing of Sky News or selling the news outlet to Disney.

On Tuesday, 21st Century Fox said it could either legally separate Sky News from the rest of Sky, or it could sell Sky News to The Walt Disney Co. The Murdoch family's news outlets are now consumed by almost a third of the UK's population across TV, radio, online and newspapers. Comcast launched its own $31 billion offer for Sky in February.

The deal is being scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority. Fox had previously proposed a separate editorial board to insulate Sky News from Murdoch's influence and in March sweetened the offer, proposing a 10-year funding guarantee for the U.K.'s oldest 24-hour news service. "These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality", said 21st Century Fox in a statement.

The Murdoch family own 39 percent of Sky through 21st Century Fox.

"If the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport agrees, and Fox acquires Sky, Disney would buy Sky News and agree to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence", Disney said in a statement.


The fate of Sky News is at the heart of the questions posed by the British guardian of competition, the CMA, who ruled that the operation was "not in the public interest" given fears about the plurality of media, in provisional conclusions issued in January.

By doing so, Fox's takeover of Sky would mostly likely be approved by regulators.

Sky, which operates in seven European countries, is a smaller version of what American media giants are trying to become: owners of TV and internet "pipes" as well as the programming that flows through them. "It's a sweetener, and it's saying "we aren't as gung-ho on acquiring Sky News as they think". Unlike Murdoch, Disney has no meaningful news business in Britain and would therefore pose less of a concern to regulators.

At the same time however, Disney announced last December that it would buy Fox for $52.4-billion.

The CMA, which published the Fox concessions in full on Tuesday, is conducting a review and will submit a final report to the British government on May 1.

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