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New undertakings by 21st Century Fox in Sky takeover bid

4:53 pm, 19th June 2018

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said the improved remedies would safeguard Sky News in the case of a successful £11.7bn takeover of Sky.

They are a commitment from Disney, which has offered to take over Fox’s entertainment assets, to operate and maintain a Sky News branded news service for 15 years rather than 10 years.

They also include:

:: A restriction on Disney from selling Sky News for 15 years without the consent of the Secretary of State

:: An extension of the funding commitment from 21st Century Fox from 10 years to 15 years

:: An increase in the total funds available to Sky News, to at least £100m per year, with operating costs protected in real terms

:: A formal commitment from Disney to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News

Mr Hancock said he will now hold a formal consultation on the undertakings – which he plans to accept – over the next 15 days.

Views on whether the proposals are sufficient to address media plurality and public interest concerns raised by the potential merger will be accepted until July 4.

Fox, which is Sky’s largest single shareholder, was given the go-ahead by the government earlier this month to bid for Sky on the condition that it sells the news provider to another approved owner ahead of any takeover.

Fox had been locked in negotiations with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) about the terms of such a sale, expected to be to Disney which, in a separate all-share deal just before Christmas, agreed to buy Fox’s entertainment assets including its shareholding in Sky for $52bn.

US cable giant Comcast, which has bid £22.1bn for Sky, has also said it would be prepared to buy the same Fox assets for $65bn in cash.

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