Rupert’s Big Bid: Murdoch pledges Sky News’ independence in order to keep takeover alive
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has pledged to keep Sky News independent, as it smooths its way for a mammoth takeover.
In a statement this afternoon, the media giant has pledged that Sky News will run for a further five years with oversight from an independent board.
The announcement is the latest in a series of steps as Fox prepares to gain the remaining 61% of Sky News that it does not currently own. The bid was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month because it was deemed to be “against the public interest.”
In January, the Chair of the CMA, Anna Lambert said that the bid “would result in the Murdoch family having too much control over news providers in the UK, and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.” As a result, the CMA proposed three options; protecting Sky News from Fox’s influence, spinning off or divesting Sky News outright, or blocking the deal.
The announcement today has therefore been tailored to specifically mention the reduced influence of the Murdoch family on the Sky News Network:
“The combined effect of the Proposed Firewall Remedies is that there could be no circumstances in which, post-transaction, the MFT (Murdoch family trust) or members of the Murdoch family could influence, whether directly or indirectly, the editorial line or policy of Sky News.”
However, to add a further layer of complexity is that the Disney Company has agreed to buy most of Fox’s business. Disney’s proposed takeover, which still has to be approved by US regulators, includes Fox’s current 39 per cent stake in Sky.
In the interim, all we can do is wait, as the CMA is due to hand down its final report on the proposed takeover on 14 June.