Fox pledges Sky News independence, as takeover hangs in the balance

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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.

21st Century Fox has proposed an independent editorial board for United Kingdom news channel Sky News as part of what it calls "firewall" remedies that it argues should help it seal its planned deal to take full control of European pay TV giant Sky.

The "firewall remedies" were revealed in documents published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

21st Century Fox proposed Sky takeover faces a setback.

Fox's proposals regarding Sky News were made in response to the list of possible remedies, and were released by the CMA.

The US company has offered to set up an independent editorial board for Sky News, and to continue funding the service for at least five years.

The CMA suggested ways it felt Fox could address its concerns, including spinning off Sky News, or "behavioural" changes to protect Sky News from direct influence from the Murdoch Family Trust.

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In that case, the concessions offered by Fox to safeguard Sky News would fall away, as the Murdoch family would not be in control of Sky's new parent company, Disney.

Last year Rupert Murdoch's firm announced plans to takeover the remaining stake of Sky, however, the United Kingdom government referred the proposed deal to the competition authorities to review.

The competition watchdog has until May 1 before sending its final report on the bid to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, who will then have 30 working days to make a final decision.

The deal has also been complicated by Disney's offer to buy a major chunk of Fox, including its existing state in Sky.

Fox in its submission to the CMA also argued that its provisional findings "contain a number of material legal and factual errors" that taken together "do not provide a reasonable basis, on which to conclude that the transaction may be expected to operate against the public interest in respect of the media plurality consideration".

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

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