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Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox pledged to keep Sky 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 Sky.
Fox 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 Sky it does not already own should be blocked unless a way was found to reduce the influence Murdoch could wield through owning the Sun and the Times 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 Sky News should be enough to gain approval.
Looming over the Fox-Sky takeover is a $52.4 billion deal that would result in Walt Disney Co buying Fox's TV and film studios, its cable TV assets and international TV businesses including Sky - leaving the Murdochs with Fox's U.
S news and sports channels, as well as their News Corp newspaper and publishing assets.
The regulator had said the output of Murdoch's companies would be watched, read or heard by nearly a third of the British population, giving him too much sway over public opinion.
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 BBC in 24-hour TV news.
Fox said the regulator's assessment was based on a number of legal and factual errors, but nonetheless promised to fund Sky News for at least five years and said it would put a "firewall" around the channel as remedies.
"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," the company said.
But the CMA noted opponents of the deal had said previous offers by Murdoch to guarantee the editorial independence of the Times newspapers in Britain and the Dow Jones company had proved ineffective.
Former opposition Labour leader Ed Milliband and ex-Conservative finance minister Kenneth Clarke were among four lawmakers who said the deal should be blocked, arguing if the independence of Sky News was lost, it would be difficult or impossible to restore, and that the CMA could reconsider the deal if Disney buys Fox.
(Editing by David Evans 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.)