Fox Proposes Independent Sky News Editorial Board Among Sky Deal Concessions

Disney is pursuing a separate agreement to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets – including its stake in Sky

Disney is pursuing a separate agreement to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets – including its stake in Sky

Sky is already 39%-owned by 21 Century Fox, which is in turn controls News Corporation, publishers of The Times and the Sun.

The media giant this afternoon committed to running Sky News for at least five years and would establish a fully independent board for the channel.

The Hollywood studio revealed that it would keep a Sky-branded news services in the United Kingdom for at least five years and maintain its current level of investment.

Last month, the CMA provisionally ruled that the takeover would raise media plurality concerns on the basis that Rupert Murdoch would exert excessive influence over the United Kingdom news media.

Documents published by the CMA on Monday revealed the additional safeguards proposed by 21CF as it seeks to bring its 14-month pursuit of Sky to a swift conclusion.

21st Century Fox (21CF) has offered to strengthen guarantees of Sky News' independence in an attempt to win regulators' backing for its takeover of Sky plc, the UK's biggest pay-television broadcaster.

The main sticking point was the fact that the Murdoch family would have "too much control over news providers in the United Kingdom, and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

If all its suggestions are enacted, Fox said, "there could be no circumstances in which...the [Murdoch Family Trust] or members of the Murdoch family could influence, whether directly or indirectly, the editorial line or policy of Sky News". Opponents of the deal also contend that the Murdochs and Fox, in light of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox News in the USA, would not be suitable owners of Sky, though this argument has been rejected by regulators.

It also said it agreed with the CMA's view that the possibility of Disney buying Fox assets, including its stake in Sky, should be taken into consideration.

"The proposed remedies (.) decisively eliminate the source of the CMA's provisional concerns - potential MFT influence over Sky News' editorial decision-making", it said.

The CMA is also weighing other options for protecting the independence of Sky News, such as blocking the Fox deal, or seeking a legal separation or full sale of the news division. It will present its final report to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by May 1.

Analysts believe if this $50bn deal goes ahead, leaving Disney as Sky's owner, regulatory issues would disappear.

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