21st Century Fox offers concession to seal Sky takeover

21st Century Fox offers concession to seal Sky takeover

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has vowed to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News in order to secure its takeover of pan-European TV giant Sky, documents showed Monday.

Disney acquired the 39 per cent of Sky now owned by Fox and "full ownership" of the broadcaster if and when the Sky takeover bid is completed, according to the terms of the deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally found that if the deal went ahead as planned, it would give the Murdoch family too much control over news providers in the UK.

The Journal suggests that Comcast could be motivated to renew its bid if the AT&T-Time Warner merger is approved, which would weaken Fox's case for rejecting Comcast on regulatory grounds.

The Competition and Markets Authority said the takeover would lead to the Murdoch Family Trust, which controls Fox and News Corp (ultimate owners of the Sun and Times newspapers), having "too much control over news providers in the United Kingdom across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

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.

However, the company said that if the Competition and Markets Authority finalizes its earlier ruling, the best way to mitigate these concerns would be to create a fully independent board that would oversee Sky News and guarantee its editorial independence.

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The CMA noted that most of the responses it had received agreed with the regulator's provisional finding that the deal would not be in the public interest.

The ongoing row over the proposed takeover could complicate Walt Disney's looming 66 billion U.S. dollar (£47 billion) takeover of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, including Sky.

Fox said the remedies outlined by the group would cease to exist once the Disney takeover is sealed.

The Disney and Fox deal is still 12-18 months out, but an issue that has come up is that Fox Studios shareholders need to approve the deal.

Those included blocking the deal, spinning off or selling Sky News, or seeking to "insulate" Sky News from the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust.

The competition regulator is due to present its final report to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by 1 May, and he has said he will make a decision on the deal by 14 June.

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