No mousing around as Disney offers to take Sky News

CREDIT Courtesy of Sky
CREDIT Courtesy of Sky
Author

04 April, 2018

Since opponents have suggested that a United Kingdom -based news channel is not under fit and proper owner that is 21st Century Fox, Sky News has become an essential part of the takeover deal bid.

The sale of Sky News to Disney would take place "whether or not Disney's proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox proceeds", Fox said on Tuesday. But as Disney's deal for Fox is now structured, Disney would get Fox's current 39% ownership stake in Sky, which would include Sky News.

The first - ring-fencing of Sky News - would involve the legal separation of Sky News, with all of Sky News's operations being transferred into a new subsidiary.

Sky said in a statement issued this morning that it believes both proposals "comprehensively address any plurality concerns the CMA may have" and would guarantee Sky News' future and editorial independence.

European pay TV giant Sky and its 39 percent owner 21st Century Fox have offered to sell the Sky News channel to Walt Disney if that would help address United Kingdom regulators' concerns about Sky News' independence from Fox.

Analysts Liberum Capital said the Fox remedies "should be adequate" to overcome the regulator's media plurality concerns.

Fox already owns 39 percent of the European pay-TV group and they are regularly facing competition for control of the business from Comcast (Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.).

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Fox stressed on Tuesday that Disney would in any case purchase Sky News even if it didn't buy Murdoch's group.

Even if Fox's proposals satisfy Britain's government and competition regulator, however, it may still need to raise its recommended offer for Sky after USA cable group Comcast Corp said it meant to make a higher counter-bid. It proposed itself that Sky News could be either spun off or divested.

Fox is continuing to work with United Kingdom regulators on finalizing the deal for Sky while also fending off a rival bid from Comcast.

Mr Murdoch's family already have extensive media holdings, including stakes in newspapers such as The Sun and The Times.

Twenty-First Century Fox said, "We are aware that a group of politicians that is opposed to the transaction is seeking to influence the CMA and is making a number of unsupported and fanciful assertions".

The CMA will now review the proposals and is due to report back to British culture secretary Matt Hancock by May 1, who will make a final decision on the deal.

"We think Sky is an outstanding company", said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement at the time. "A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate", it added.


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