No mousing around as Disney offers to take Sky News

Posted April 04, 2018

The proposals are aimed at easing some of the regulatory concerns over the extent of Murdoch's influence on British media if his 21st Century Fox is cleared to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own for 11.7 billion pounds ($16.4 billion).

The CMA in January said it had provisionally found that Fox taking full ownership of Sky is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns.

The Fox-owned Murdoch family already owns two daily newspapers in the United Kingdom via News Corp, The Times and The Sun.

It has offered to turn Sky News into a separate legal entity that would be transferred to Disney as soon as 21st Century Fox's acquisition of Sky was complete, irrespective of whether Disney's deal to purchase Fox goes through. Fox had previously proposed a separate editorial board to insulate Sky News from Murdoch's influence and in March sweetened the offer, proposing a 10-year funding guarantee for the U.K.'s oldest 24-hour news service.

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Rupert Murdoch's Fox is bolstering efforts to secure the Sky takeover after Comcast February made a surprise competing offer for the pay-TV company.

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

Sky said, as the regulatory process remains ongoing, shareholders are advised to take no action at this stage.

"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", it concluded.

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"The big thing we still don't know is what Comcast are going to do about their potential offer for Sky, which in the short term at least has created a market in Sky shares which is far above the price that 21st Century Fox has offered", he explained. Under this proposal, Sky News would operate entirely independently with guaranteed funding by 21CF for 15 years.

But the proposal faces another challenge as U.S. broadcaster Comcast is mounting its own £22.1 billion takeover approach for Sky. It will continue to work with the regulator, and then the Secretary of State at the appropriate time, and leave open the possibility to pursue all of legal options if necessary.

"The fact that Disney has agreed to this today suggests that the next thing to expect is a revised bid from Fox/Disney for Sky, to match or beat Comcast's offer".

A CMA spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had until May 1 to provide its report on the proposed deal to Britain's minister for digital matters, culture, media and sport.

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