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21st Century Fox offers concession to seal Sky takeover

Published: Updated:

21st Century Fox has offered to insulate Sky’s news operations from the influence of Rupert Murdoch and his family to win approval of its bid to take over the London-based pay TV company.

Fox, in a submission to Britain’s competition regulator, said it disagrees with a preliminary finding that the takeover would give Murdoch too much control over the country’s media. However, the company said that if the Competition and Markets Authority finalizes its earlier ruling, the best way to mitigate these concerns would be to create a fully independent board that would oversee Sky News and guarantee its editorial independence.

“21CF intends that Sky News will continue to operate as an editorially independent business unit within Sky following completion of the Transaction,” Fox said in the document released Monday. “As one of the organization’s founding shareholders, 21CF has been a supporter of Sky (including Sky News) since its origin. The transaction does not change that.”

The competition watchdog must finalize its decision before making a recommendation to the government on whether it should approve Fox’s effort to buy the 61 percent of Sky Plc it doesn’t already own for 11.7 billion pounds ($16.3 billion).

The agency last month acknowledged that Walt Disney Co.’s $52.4 billion bid for most of Fox could eliminate concerns about Murdoch’s control of the company, but said it was moving forward with its review because there is no guarantee the Disney takeover will be completed.