Fox offers to sell Sky News to Disney

Fox offers to sell Sky News to Disney

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has proposed selling Sky News to Disney as it hopes to convince regulators to approve its protracted takeover of Sky.

The US media giant offered two possible remedies today in order to resolve objections raised in January by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Fox wants to buy the 39% of Sky it does not already own for a proposed £17.5bn but Ofcom and the CMA have raised concerns about media plurality in the UK.

Both proposals aim to ring-fence Sky News from Sky management, whether Sky is owned by Fox or the news channel is sold to Disney.

In a statement, Fox has proposed creating a new company that would own Sky News as a subsidiary of Sky, or selling the new company to Disney as soon as the Fox-Sky takeover is completed. 

Disney came forward with a rival $66bn (£47bn) bid to buy Fox’s entertainment assets – including Sky – just before last Christmas. That offer is being examined by US regulators.

In a further twist, Universal Pictures owner Comcast emerged with a $31bn bid to buy Sky in February.

Fox first announced its latest plan to take over Sky in December 2016 – five years after a previous bid was thwarted by the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of sister newspaper brand News of the World.

Today the company said: "We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review. In fact, we believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns. These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on UK broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality.

"We are aware that a group of politicians that is opposed to the transaction is seeking to influence the CMA and is making a number of unsupported and fanciful assertions. If the CMA were to accept at face value these assertions and be dissatisfied with enhanced remedies that are a direct and reasonable response to concerns it had raised with us, we believe that this would compromise the integrity of a system which is supposed to be objective, evidenced-based and grounded on the application of established legal principles." 

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