Disney proposes Sky News purchase

Acquisition: Fox Proposes to Sell Sky News to Disney

21st Century Fox Inc.is offering to sell Sky News to Walt Disney Co.as it seeks to win over United Kingdom regulators reviewing its 11.7 billion-pound (US$16.5 billion) bid for broadcaster Sky Plc.

In a bid to alleviate the CMA's concerns, Fox has recommended either a legal separation and ringfencing of Sky News or selling the news outlet to Disney.

The Walt Disney Co. offered to buy Sky News on Tuesday - but not because the British news channel is core to Disney's business.

Fox agreed in December 2016 to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own, but the deal has been repeatedly delayed by the United Kingdom government and regulators, allowing Comcast to gate crash the deal in February.

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.

Fox said it had offered the CMA "personal undertakings" from its executive chairman, Mr Murdoch, and its chief executive - his son, James, "not to influence or attempt to influence the editorial choices made by the head of Sky News". And it is competing against Comcast, the USA cable giant that plans to make its own bid for control of Sky.

Sky said it in a statement that the "remedy proposals" would "comprehensively address any plurality concerns the CMA may have, and would guarantee the long-term future of Sky News and its ongoing editorial independence".

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Fox said the proposed changes "went above and beyond" what Ofcom, the independent media regulator in the United Kingdom had "stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality". That was previously uncertain since Disney has argued it could buy Murdoch's 39 percent without making a full bid, because owning Sky wasn't necessarily the main motivation of the wider tie-up between Fox and Disney. Disney also said it would "agree to sustain the operating capital of Sky News and maintain its editorial independence".

Fox had already pledged to ensure the independence of Sky News. It now owns 39 percent of Sky. Under this proposal, Sky News would operate entirely independently with guaranteed funding by 21CF for 15 years.

In December, Fox agreed to a $52.4 billion stock offer from Walt Disney for its entertainment assets and global units, including its stake in Sky.

Disney is already trying to take over many parts of Fox. Britain's Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will then issue his verdict.

Sky also said the proposals would address regulatory concerns.

Separately, Twenty-First Century Fox said that it has worked diligently with the CMA throughout its extensive review.

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