Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to win pay-TV prize

Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to win pay-TV prize

Murdoch offers to sell Sky News to Disney to win pay-TV prize

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has come up with two proposals it thinks will alleviate a United Kingdom regulator's concern about the company's bid to purchase European broadcaster Sky. In fact, it believes that the enhanced firewall remedies it proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns.

Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, in December 2016 launched a bid to take full control of the British company.

In a preliminary finding earlier this year, United Kingdom antitrust authorities said Fox's full ownership of Sky and its Sky News operations would give Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch too much influence in British media.

The proposed takeover is very controversial as critics have warned tit would leave too much media power in the hands of the Murdoch family - who already own The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.

"The big thing we still don't know is what Comcast are going to do about their potential offer for Sky, which in the short term at least has created a market in Sky shares which is far above the price that 21st Century Fox has offered", he explained.

The competition regulator is expected to offer its recommendation on Fox's bid for Sky by May 1.

Another proposal is that Sky News would be legally separated from the rest of Sky, in a bid to ensure its editorial independence. That's a slightly stronger version of an idea which media watchdog Ofcom, the first regulator to review the deal, said would "mitigate" concerns. But as Disney's deal for Fox is now structured, Disney would get Fox's current 39% ownership stake in Sky, which would include Sky News.

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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.

Comcast's offer of 12.50 pounds per Sky share exceeds a 10.75-pound offer by Fox.

In December, Disney agreed to buy the bulk of Fox's assets, including its film and television studios, for US$52.4bn. His readiness to buy Sky News therefore signals a clear commitment to owning Sky.

Fox would have to fund Sky News for 15 years and set it up with an independent board.

Fox already owns 39 percent of the European pay-TV group and they are regularly facing competition for control of the business from Comcast (Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.).

The agency is considering whether to recommend the Fox deal for Sky to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock for approval.

Fox said, "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".

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