Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has offered to sell Sky’s news channel to Disney in the hope of winning political approval for its proposed £18.5bn takeover of the UK broadcaster.
The move was one of two remedies offered by Fox to the Competition and Markets Authority, the other being a legal separation of Sky News from its parent company and a guarantee to fund the channel for 15 years.
The media giant said either remedy should assuage concerns about the channel’s editorial independence after the CMA said its proposed deal for the 61pc of Sky it doesn’t already own would not be in the public interest because of Mr Murdoch’s control of other news outlets including The Sun and The Times.
Fox is in the process of selling the bulk of its assets to Disney, including its Sky stake, but said the sale of Sky News could take place regardless of whether the two companies’ £51bn mega-merger goes ahead. The deal, announced in December, is expected to take up to two years to secure approval from regulators.
Mr Murdoch’s business will also have to fend off a rival £22bn offer for Sky from Disney’s rival Comcast, which made the approach in February, sending the UK broadcaster’s shares up in anticipation of a bidding war.
Fox also warned the CMA against accepting “a number of unsupported and fanciful assertions” by “a group of politicians” opposed to the deal.
The company said if the regulator took those assertions at face value it would “compromise the integrity of a system which is supposed to be objective, evidenced-based and grounded on the application of established legal principles.”
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