Offer to cut off Murdoch influence on Sky

21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback

21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback

The move comes after the CMA found last month that Fox's deal to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own was "not in the public interest".

Just days after a United Kingdom regulator put a provisional block on the £11.7bn Fox-Sky deal saying it would concentrate too much power in Rupert Murdoch's hands, the US-based media group has now pledged to guarantee the independence of Sky News.

Fox's proposals call for an independent board to have "sole responsibility for setting editorial strategy and direction for Sky News' digital, television and radio output".

Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox has pledged to keep Sky News independent as it looks to assuage concerns related to its proposed acquisition of Sky (LON:SKY).

Earlier, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) found that if the deal went through, it would give the Murdoch family too much power over news providers in the UK. The separation of Sky News is an attempt to address that issue.

Fox said the remedies outlined by the group would cease to exist once the Disney takeover is sealed.

Disney acquired the 39 per cent of Sky now owned by Fox and "full ownership" of the broadcaster if and when the Sky takeover bid is completed, according to the terms of the deal.

If the Sky-Fox deal does finally go through, the whole of Sky would be likely to transfer to Disney's ownership.

In its response to the CMA, Sky said it considered Fox's proposals would be "an effective and comprehensive solution to any potential concerns".

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reports that Comcast made a bid for Fox that was in the low US$60 billion range, significantly higher than Disney's US$52.4 billion offer (though Disney's deal totals US$66 billion when debt is included).

Opponents of the Fox-Sky deal, such as former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and online advocacy group Avaaz, said in separate CMA filings that blocking the takeover is the only way to ensure Murdoch doesn't gain too much influence.

Fox's previous play for the pan-European pay-TV service foundered in 2011 amid the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Murdoch's British newspapers.