Murdoch's Fox could separate Sky News to satisfy UK regulator on takeover

Murdoch’s ownership of the Sun the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers has led to competition concerns over the Fox takeover of Sky News

Murdoch's ownership of the Sun the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers has led to competition concerns over the Fox takeover of Sky News

Walt Disney could buy Sky News from 21st Century Fox in a bid to ease concerns over the Murdoch family's influence on British media if its planned takeover of the news outlet's parent company, Sky, goes ahead.

Both options revolve around Sky's news business.

It added: "Alternatively, The Walt Disney Company has expressed an interest in acquiring Sky News, with a view to adding it to Disney's existing portfolio of television channels, whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of 21CF proceeds".

Sky Italia and Mediaset announced a content and distribution deal on Friday, paving the way for a collaboration between the two media groups.

Twenty-First Century Fox said it could legally separate Sky News within the wider Sky group to allay the concerns of a British regulator about the news service's continuing independence under Rupert Murdoch's ownership. Comcast also recently offered to acquire Sky for $31 billion.

The deal is being scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority. Fox had previously proposed giving Sky News its own editorial board and a 10-year funding guarantee. "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.

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Sky News is of particular concern to the CMA because Mr Murdoch already owns newspapers the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times as well as several radio stations.

First, Fox must have received approval from Disney to offer the concession, they said, and second, Sky said its independent directors remained focused on maximising value for shareholders. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming.

Disney's move on Tuesday would untangle the process by, in effect, leaping over Fox to acquire Sky News directly.

Activist hedge fund Elliott Capital has been building a substantial stake in Sky in recent months, and on Tuesday it disclosed its interest had grown to 2.84 percent.

"We have now submitted a new, revised set of remedies should they be considered necessary by the CMA and ultimately by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport", Fox said in a statement.

Liberum added: "The news that Sky Italia seems to have settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also makes Sky more valuable to a bidder, given it makes the prospects in Italy more attractive".

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