Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has offered protections for Sky News in a bid to get his company’s £11.7bn takeover of Sky over the finishing line.
The ‘firewall’ proposals would give the channel an editorial board to protect its independence and guarantee funding for at least five years.
It comes after regulators raised concerns that 21st Century Fox’s takeover of Sky would give the Murdoch family, which controls Fox, too much sway over the UK media.
Offer: Rupert Murdoch’s ‘firewall’ proposals would give Sky News an editorial board to protect its independence
Murdoch, 86, also owns newspapers The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
The Competition & Markets Authority last month suggested Sky News would need to be either spun off or given added protections in order for Sky’s takeover to go ahead. It sparked fears that the pioneering news channel could be shut down.
But in documents published yesterday by the regulator, Fox said it would promise to protect Sky News’ editorial independence. In its response to the CMA, Fox said: ‘The combined effect of the proposed firewall remedies is that there could be no circumstances in which, post-transaction, the Murdoch family trust or members of the Murdoch family could influence, whether directly or indirectly, the editorial line of Sky News.’
Sky, in a separate submission, added: ‘The remedies proposed by 21st Century Fox would be an effective and comprehensive solution to any potential concerns arising from the transaction.’
Bosses at Fox will be hoping the proposals draw a line under the CMA’s concerns about the Sky takeover. The deal was proposed in 2016 but regulators and politicians have wrangled over whether to approve it. But efforts to push it through have become more urgent at Fox since the company itself agreed to be taken over by Disney. That includes Fox’s holding in Sky, which Disney boss Bob Iger has described as a ‘crown jewel’.
The regulator has said its concerns would fall away if Sky was owned by Disney.