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Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox pledges to keep Sky News independent

Britain's competition regulator said last month that Fox's deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own should be blocked

Reuters  |  London 

Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch's Twenty-First Century pledged to keep News independent and continue funding the loss-making channel for five years, in an attempt to overcome regulatory concerns over its $15.7 billion takeover of pay-TV firm

said it would establish a fully independent board for the news channel to ensure the 86-year-old media mogul and his family could not influence its output.

Britain's competition regulator said last month that Fox's deal to buy the 61 percent of it does not already own should be blocked unless a way was found to reduce the influence Murdoch could wield through owning and newspapers, as well as TV, radio and online news outlets.

Some lawyers, investors and analysts have said that a stronger mechanism to guarantee the independence of News should be enough to gain approval.

Looming over the Fox-takeover is a $52.4 billion deal that would result in Walt Co buying Fox's TV and film studios, its assets and TV businesses including - leaving the Murdochs with Fox's U.

S news and sports channels, as well as their newspaper and publishing assets.

The (CMA) had already said the deal should be taken into consideration when any remedies are assessed.

Fox, which disputes the CMA's finding on the it would have if it owned Sky, said any concerns about the Murdoch influence would fall away after a takeover.

The regulator had said the output of Murdoch's would be watched, read or heard by nearly a third of the British population, giving him too much sway over public opinion.

THREE SOLUTIONS

In January it put forward three broad possible solutions: insulating News from Fox's influence, spinning off or divesting News, or blocking the deal outright.

Sky, however, warned the regulator that if it blocked the deal, it could close the loss-making channel completely, killing the main British competitor to the in 24-hour TV news.

said the regulator's assessment was based on a number of legal and factual errors, but nonetheless promised to fund News for at least five years and said it would put a "firewall" around the channel as remedies.

"The combined effect of the Proposed 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 News," the company said.

It said it would establish a fully independent board to oversee News, including the appointment of the of the channel, who will have sole responsibility for editorial strategy and staffing.

The proposal builds on a previous pledge to create a News board with a majority of independent directors.

But the CMA noted opponents of the deal had said previous offers by Murdoch to guarantee the editorial independence of newspapers in Britain and the company had proved ineffective.

Former opposition and ex-Conservative minister were among four lawmakers who said the deal should be blocked, arguing if the independence of News was lost, it would be difficult or impossible to restore, and that the CMA could reconsider the deal if buys

Fox's proposals were released by the CMA on Monday. It is due to present with a final report by May 1 and he has said he will rule on the deal by June 14.

Shares in were trading up 0.36 percent at 10.53 pounds at 1216 GMT. has offered 10.75 pounds a share.

(Editing by and David Holmes)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 20:51 IST
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