Fox Proposes Independent Sky News Editorial Board Among Sky Deal Concessions

The company announced it would commit to maintain Sky News for a five year period, alongside creating a fully independent board for the channel, in a bid to appease United Kingdom competition regulators.

21st Century Fox (21CF) has offered to strengthen guarantees of Sky News' independence in an attempt to win regulators' backing for its takeover of Sky plc, the UK's biggest pay-television broadcaster.

Broadcaster 21st Century Fox has offered to bolster editorial independence at Sky News as it tries to win regulatory backing for its bid to take control of the United Kingdom broadcaster.

Fox's proposals were released by the CMA on Monday.

21st century Fox has said that as result of said proposals, "there could be no circumstances in which, post-transaction, the MFT or members of the Murdoch family could influence, whether directly or indirectly, the editorial line or policy of Sky News".

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Fox also pledged to keep funding Sky-branded news services for at least five years. Media regulator Ofcom in an earlier step of the deal review had also proposed that Sky News should be protected to preserve its editorial independence. Importantly, the proposed firewall remedies "would terminate upon completion" of the sale of various Fox assets to Walt Disney, it said.

Sky is 39%-owned by 21CF, controlled by the Murdoch Family Trust - which also controls News Corporation, the publisher of British newspapers including The Sun and The Times.

The BBC notes that the CMA is due to present its final report to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by May 1, and that he has said that he will make a decision on the deal by June 14.

Britain's competition regulator said last month that Fox's$15.7 billion deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own should be blocked unless a way is found to prevent Murdoch influencing Sky's news output. 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.

Working under the assumption that the CMA does not change its mind, the conglomerate said its "proposed firewall remedies represent a comprehensive and clear cut solution that directly addresses the origin of the CMA's adverse provisional findings".

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