Fox willing to back independent Sky News


Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has offered a series of steps to "guarantee" the editorial independence of Sky News to assuage concerns raised by the UK's competition watchdog over the company's bid to take full control of the pan-European broadcaster Sky.

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". In addition to the carrot Fox is also wielding a stick by threatening to kill off the station completely if its ambitions are thwarted.

Under the proposals, 21st Century Fox said Sky News would have a fully independent editorial board. He also pledged not to interfere editorially. It also committed to maintain a Sky-branded news services in the United Kingdom for at least five years with "equivalent levels of investment".

Opponents of the deal also contend that the Murdochs and Fox, in light of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox News in the USA, would not be suitable owners of Sky, though this argument has been rejected by regulators.

It suggested the government could block the deal, order a spin-off or divestiture of Sky News or set behavioral remedies to "insulate" it from the influence of the Murdoch trust.

Last month, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said the deal would be harm the public interest if the concerns over Murdoch's media influence weren't addressed.

The deal with Disney includes 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000, 20th Century Fox Television, FX Productions, Fox21, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox's interests in Hulu, Sky, and Endemol Shine Group.

While speaking at Recode's Code Media event on Monday, 21st Century Fox president and Fox Networks group chairman Peter Rice said he thinks his company is "a great fit for Disney".

Opponents of the deal have continued to argue for the deal's prohibition, including in a joint submission made by politicians including Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, and Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader.

The CMA's final report will be submitted to culture Secretary Matt Hancock by 1 May, and he has said he will make a decision on the deal by 14 June.