Twenty-First Century Fox said it could legally separate Sky News within the wider Sky group to allay the concerns of a British regulator about the news service’s continuing independence under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership.
It also said it could sell the 24-hour news channel to Walt Disney if its bid to acquire the 61 percent of the company it does not already own is approved, regardless of whether Disney’s proposed acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox’s assets proceeds.
Fox agreed to buy all of the European pay-TV group in December 2016, but the deal has been repeatedly delayed by the British government and regulators. U.S. cable giant Comcast Corp gatecrashed the deal in February when it said it would offer 12.50 pounds a share to buy Sky, compared to Fox’s 10.75 pounds, although it has not yet made a formal bid.
Fox, which already owns 39 percent of the European pay-TV group, had already put forward steps it would take to guarantee the independence of Sky News, such as funding it for 10 years and creating an independent board of directors.
“We have worked diligently with the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) throughout its extensive review,” Fox said on Tuesday.
“In fact, we believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA’s provisional concerns.”
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.