Fox offers pledge on Sky News independence to clinch takeover bid

Disney is pursuing a separate agreement to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets – including its stake in Sky

Disney is pursuing a separate agreement to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets – including its stake in Sky

Just days after a United Kingdom regulator put a provisional block on the £11.7bn Fox-Sky deal saying it would concentrate too much power in Rupert Murdoch's hands, the US-based media group has now pledged to guarantee the independence of Sky News.

In documents submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority, Fox proposed a series of "firewall remedies", including a guaranteed funding of the Sky News operation for five years and and independent editorial board that would be free of interference from Fox executives.

The Competition and Markets Authority says the media giant is also promising similar levels of investment as part of its planned takeover of Sky plc.

The CMA in January put forward three broad possible solutions to its concerns: insulating Sky News from Fox's influence, spinning off or divesting Sky News, or blocking the deal outright.

21st Century Fox has affirmed it will maintain the independence of Sky News (LON:SKY), as it looks to cement its proposed take-over.

This comes as Fox has spent over a year attempting to buy the 61% in Sky, which is controlled by the Murdoch Family Trust, which also controls News Corporation, the publisher of British newspapers including The Sun and The Times, that it does not now own.

Sky meanwhile commented that the remedies proposed by Fox "would be an effective and comprehensive solution to any potential concerns arising from the Transaction", and that the plans were "straightforward to implement and monitor".

Because the larger transaction requires regulatory approval that will not be granted before the CMA must make a final ruling on the takeover of Sky, 21CF has said its independence undertakings relating to Sky News will evaporate if the Disney deal completes.

Sky is 39%-owned by 21CF, controlled by the Murdoch Family Trust - which also controls News Corporation, the publisher of British newspapers including The Sun and The Times. It will present its final report to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by May 1.

Britain's competition regulator said last month that Fox's$15.7 billion deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own should be blocked unless a way is found to prevent Murdoch influencing Sky's news output.

However, an ongoing tussle over the deal has the potential to complicate Walt Disney's $US66 billion ($A92 billion) takeover of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, including Sky.

Political opponents of the Fox-Sky deal, led by Labour Party politician Ed Miliband, continued to argue it should not be allowed.

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