Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Murdochs promise not to interfere with Sky News

Murdochs promise not to interfere with Sky News

Fox said its so-called "firewall remedies" would provide a commitment that "no employee or officer of 21st Century Fox, or a member of the 21st Century Fox board who is a trustee or beneficiary of the Murdoch Family Trust, will influence or attempt to influence the editorial choices made by the head of Sky News".

21st Century Fox (21CF) has offered to strengthen guarantees of Sky News' independence in an attempt to win regulators' backing for its takeover of Sky plc, the UK's biggest pay-television broadcaster.

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.

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox offered Monday to establish an "independent" editorial board in order to safeguard the independence of Sky's news division, which it would keep running for at least five years.

The move came after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently ruled that the deal was not in the public interest.

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.

Fox has been trying to buy the 61% of Sky that it does not now own.

There is now the added complication of Disney agreeing to buy most of Fox's assets, including its 39% stake in Sky.

The provisional CMA report raised concerns about the influence of the Murdoch family trust, which controls Fox and News Corp, over the United Kingdom media landscape.

The CMA still have to publish a final report to the government imposed deadline of May 1st. Opponents of the deal also contend that the Murdochs and Fox, in light of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox News in the USA, would not be suitable owners of Sky, though this argument has been rejected by regulators.

If the Fox-Sky deal is blocked, and the Disney-Fox deal goes through, Disney would then have to decide whether to make its own offer for the remaining 61% of Sky.

"The proposed remedies (.) decisively eliminate the source of the CMA's provisional concerns - potential MFT influence over Sky News' editorial decision-making", it said.

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