Disney offers to buy Sky News to aid Murdoch bid


The offer comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) - a United Kingdom government body responsible for strengthening business competition - ruled that Murdoch's proposed £11.7bn acquisition of Sky would not be in the public interest. In fact, we believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA's provisional concerns.

Sky News could be sold to Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) or ringfenced under proposals by 21 Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) as a way to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Sky PLC (LON:SKY).

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.

In January the United Kingdom competition regulator found the planned takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox not to be in the public interest. They argue that Mr Murdoch and his family, who also control News Corp, owner of The Sun and The Times, as well as Talksport radio, have too much influence over the United Kingdom media market. And it is competing against Comcast, the USA cable giant that plans to make its own bid for control of Sky.

The company, however, needs to persuade another regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the government.

Fox said its new concessions went beyond the steps that Britain's media regulator Ofcom said would mitigate concerns about Murdoch's influence.

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Mr Murdoch is in the process of selling most of Fox's TV and film assets to Disney in a £47bn deal.

Much of its decision to propose buying Sky News lies in a desire to eventually own Sky, which has 23 million customers and holds lucrative broadcast rights to the English Premier League and other professional soccer leagues. However, this offer is now competing with a proposal from the U.S. cable operator Comcast who put on the table in late February 12.50 pounds per share to take possession of Sky. Sky shares rose 1 per cent at 8:14 a.m.in London. Fox in December 2016 offered to buy the rest of Sky.

Fox has a 39 percent stake in Sky and is looking to get the remaining 61 percent.

"They've now gone as far as to persuade Disney to buy a lossmaking business, because everyone knows Sky News doesn't make any money", he said.

"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.