Fox offers pledge on Sky News independence to clinch takeover bid

Fox offers pledge on Sky News independence to clinch takeover bid

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.

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. Only the board would be able to hire and fire the head of Sky News and senior employees, including presenters.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has pledged to ensure the independence of Sky News as it seeks to overcome issues surrounding its plans to takeover Sky.

It also highlighted that the concessions would "cease to have effect in the event of certain changes of circumstances, which would result in the potential media plurality concerns identified in the provisional findings falling away".

Disney's proposed takeover, which still has to be approved by United States regulators, includes Fox's current 39 per cent stake in Sky.

The main sticking point was the fact that the Murdoch family would have "too much control over news providers in the United Kingdom, and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

Fox's proposals regarding Sky News were made in response to the list of possible remedies, and were released by the CMA.

Last month the CMA proposed for Sky News to become a separate PLC with an independent board of directors. In a separate submission, Sky said Fox's proposed offer would be an "effective and comprehensive solution" to the CMA's concerns. Opponents of the deal also contend that the Murdochs and Fox, in light of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox News in the USA, would not be suitable owners of Sky, though this argument has been rejected by regulators. The CMA's final report on the takeover bid will be with Hancock by 1 May.

It raised the prospect of behavioural remedies including the ones disclosed on Monday, or a more far-reaching structural solution such as the spin-off or divestiture of Sky News. In particular, we suggest that the CMA should not go down the same path that has failed before: "undertakings given and broken, by the Murdochs".

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