Finance

Sky News could be sold to Disney under new plan

Sky News could be sold to Disney under new plan

21st Century Fox on Tuesday offered new proposals to insulate Sky's news operations from Rupert Murdoch's influence in its ongoing bid to take full control of the London-based pay TV company.

Disney's December deal to acquire for $52.5 billion many of Fox's assets, including its stake in Sky, is separate from the Sky News offer.

If Disney buys Sky News, it would clear the way for 21st Century Fox to complete the Sky takeover.

The UK's competition authority, the CMA, on Tuesday issued a new set of proposals from 21st Century Fox, which has been trying for months to give assurances to the British authorities, anxious by the USA giant's hand on an important part of the information sector. Indeed, popular British news outlets owned by the Murdoch family include newspapers the Sun, the Time and the Sunday Times.

The company, however, needs to persuade another regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the government.

Fox unveiled an alternative proposal as well: completely separating Sky News from its parent company, giving the news provider its own board of directors and agreeing to fund it for 15 years. "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", Fox said in a statement.

Murdoch's company have made several adjustments to the deal, the newest stating that Sky News will be independent.




Fox bid two years ago for the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own, following a failed earlier takeover attempt.

"More importantly, we think the news and today's comments from Sky point to a revised bid from Fox/Disney to trump Comcast's 1250p bid", they said.

Much of its decision to propose buying Sky News lies in a desire to eventually own Sky, which has 23 million customers and holds lucrative broadcast rights to the English Premier League and other professional soccer leagues.

A CMA spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had until May 1 to provide its report on the proposed deal to Britain's minister for digital matters, culture, media and sport.

Disney would guarantee to continue funding the loss-making Sky News for five years at the present level and for a further five years at a level "not materially different" from now.

"We have proposed a set of solutions that address and resolve any and all questions or concerns that may have been raised by the transaction", Gerson Zweifach, Fox's general counsel, said in an emailed statement.