Fox promises Sky News independence

The "firewall remedies" were revealed in documents published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The Hollywood studio revealed that it would keep a Sky-branded news services in the United Kingdom for at least five years and maintain its current level of investment.

Britain's competition regulator said last month that Fox's$15.7 billion deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own should be blocked unless a way is found to prevent Murdoch influencing Sky's news output.

After a year ago offering to establish an editorial board with a majority of independent members, a proposed remedy that the United Kingdom culture secretary didn't accept at the time as not going far enough, the company is now offering a "fully independent" editorial board, initially comprised of two existing Sky independent directors and a third member nominated by the Sky independent directors with senior editorial and/or journalistic experience "to guarantee the editorial independence of Sky News". Only the board would be able to hire and fire the head of Sky News and senior employees, including presenters.

21st Century Fox Inc. bolstered remedies in a bid to win regulatory approval for its takeover of European pay-TV broadcaster Sky Plc, seeking to address concerns that the deal would give billionaire Rupert Murdoch too much influence over British media.

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".

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

The CMA in January put forward three broad possible solutions to its concerns: insulating Sky News from Fox's influence, spinning off or divesting Sky News, or blocking the deal outright.

Fox's proposals were released by the CMA on Monday.

In its response to the CMA, Sky said it considered Fox's proposals would be "an effective and comprehensive solution to any potential concerns". In that case, the concessions offered by Fox to safeguard Sky News would fall away, as the Murdoch family would not be in control of Sky's new parent company, Disney. "We urge the CMA to follow through the logic of its provisional findings and recommend to the Secretary of the State [of Culture] the prohibition of this deal", they said in their submission to the CMA.



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