Fox is Offering to Sell Sky News Channel to Disney

Disney has offered to buy UK-based Sky News in a move created to enable the channel's owner, European pay TV operator Sky, to be acquired by Mouse House target 21st Century Fox.

Murdoch is hoping to buy the 61 percent of Sky he does not already own, however, there are widespread concerns that the deal will give him too much control over the United Kingdom news.

The Fox-owned Murdoch family already owns two daily newspapers in the United Kingdom via News Corp, The Times and The Sun.

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.

Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox said on Tuesday that Walt Disney Co was interested in buying Sky News.

Besides the potential Disney deal for Sky News, Fox has also proposed "ring-fencing" remedies which would affect the legal separation between Sky News and the rest of Sky, establishing Sky News as a distinct company within the Sky Group, with its own fully independent board and under the management control of the head of Sky News.

The new Sky News company would continue to be owned by Sky and funding would be guaranteed for 15 years.

Sky said it believed that both of these remedy proposals comprehensively address any plurality concerns the CMA may have, and would guarantee the long-term future of Sky News and its ongoing editorial independence.

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Even if Fox's proposals satisfy Britain's government and competition regulator, however, it may still need to raise its recommended offer for Sky after US cable group Comcast Corp said it meant to make a higher counter-bid. The Murdoch family already own News UK, the owner of the Times and the Sun.

"They know full well that it isn't a top priority of Disney to own Sky News".

In this scenario, Disney would end up acquiring Sky News whether or not its purchase of Fox's entertainment assets goes ahead.

Fox also hit back at MPs opposed to the proposed takeover, accusing them of seeking to influence the CMA and making a "number of unsupported and fanciful assertions".

Fox said: "We have worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review".

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.

Analysts Liberum Capital said the Fox remedies "should be adequate" to overcome the regulator's media plurality concerns. However, this offer is now competing with a proposal from the USA cable operator Comcast who put on the table in late February 12.50 pounds per share to take possession of Sky.

  • Darren Santiago