Disney could buy Sky News to ease concerns over Fox's Sky takeover
04 April, 2018, 01:13 | Author: Franklin Nunez
Walt Disney has waded into the years-long dispute over Rupert Murdoch's influence in United Kingdom media by offering to buy Sky News, a move aimed at easing political and regulatory fears that Fox's acquisition of the TV outlet would deepen the media mogul's dominance in Britain.
In the absence of an outright sale of Sky News to Disney, Fox offers a full legal separation of Sky News from the rest of Sky.
Mr Murdoch would gain full control of the cable news channel if United Kingdom regulators approve the planned £11.7billion takeover of its parent Sky by 21st Century Fox.
Fox, which now owns 39% of Sky, in December 2016 launched a bid to take full control of the British company.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is now scrutinising the deal, which would see Fox, which now controls 39 per cent of Sky, take full control of the company.
The UK's competition watchdog found in January that the £11.7bn (€13.3bn) deal for Fox to acquire the 61pc of Sky shares it doesn't already own was 'not in the public interest'. And it is competing against Comcast, the US cable giant that plans to make its own bid for control of Sky.
The competition regulator is expected to offer its recommendation on Fox's bid for Sky by May 1.
Fox has a 39 percent stake in Sky and is looking to get the remaining 61 percent. Disney also said it would "agree to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence". The final decision on the deal will come from United Kingdom culture secretary Matt Hancock.
Sky, which operates in seven European countries, is a smaller version of what American media giants are trying to become: owners of TV and internet "pipes" as well as the programming that flows through them. But it also acknowledged that Fox's $52.4 billion December all-stock tie-up with Disney, which would make the "Star Wars" producer Sky's ultimate owner, offered ways around the problem.
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. Fox planned to fund the independent organization for 15 years, before they planned to fund it for a decade.
Fox is meanwhile ramping up its Sky takeover efforts after United States cable giant Comcast offered more than £22 billion for the entire group in February.
The four said the promises did not go far enough, given Murdoch's record of influence.
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