Disney bids for Sky News to aid Murdoch's Sky takeover

Disney bids for Sky News to aid Murdoch's Sky takeover

21st Century Fox has said it would sell off Sky News to Disney or ring-fence it to allay regulatory concerns over its proposed acquisition of the part of Sky it doesn't already own.

Sky has also proposed a softer option which is the "legal separation and comprehensive ringfencing" of Sky News within Sky.

Mr Murdoch would gain full control of the cable news channel if United Kingdom regulators approve the planned £11.7billion takeover of its parent Sky by 21st Century Fox.

Giant Fox from the Murdoch family has offered to divest Sky News, one of Disney's Sky channels, to get the go-ahead from British competition authorities who are investigating his desire to get 100% Sky, according to documents released Tuesday.

In a preliminary finding earlier this year, United Kingdom antitrust authorities said Fox's full ownership of Sky and its Sky News operations would give Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch too much influence in British media. And it is competing against Comcast, the US cable giant that plans to make its own bid for control of Sky.

Fox unveiled an alternative proposal as well: completely separating Sky News from its parent company, giving the news provider its own board of directors and agreeing to fund it for 15 years.

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Fox said the proposed changes "went above and beyond" what Ofcom, the independent media regulator in the United Kingdom had "stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality". It proposed itself that Sky News could be either spun off or divested.

Rupert Murdoch's Fox is bolstering efforts to secure the Sky takeover after Comcast Corp.in February made a surprise competing offer for the pay-TV company. Sky has been a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience and has a proud record of investment in news and programming. However, this offer is now competing with a proposal from the USA cable operator Comcast who put on the table in late February 12.50 pounds per share to take possession of Sky.

Twenty-First Century retain a 39% stake in Sky and, subject to ultimately obtaining regulatory approval, remain focused on acquiring the remaining 61% of Sky.

It provisionally ruled that Mr Murdoch would have too much influence over public opinion if the deal went ahead as planned.

"We have proposed a set of solutions that address and resolve any and all questions or concerns that may have been raised by the transaction", Gerson Zweifach, Fox's general counsel, said in an emailed statement. "It's a sweetener, and it's saying "we aren't as gung-ho on acquiring Sky News as they think".

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