BRITAIN said Rupert Murdoch will be allowed to buy Sky providing it follows through with a proposal to sell Sky News to Disney or another third party to allay concerns over the media mogul’s influence.
Murdoch launched his bid to buy all of Sky in December 2016, but the takeover has been held up by politicians and regulators who fear it will give him too much sway over the news agenda.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said Fox’s proposal to divest Sky News to Disney, or to an alternative suitable buyer, with an agreement to ensure it is funded for at least 10 years, was likely to be the most proportionate and effective remedy for the public interest concerns that had been identified.
The decision paves the way for Fox to battle rival Comcast to buy the European pay-TV company.
Comcast made a rival offer for Sky in February, resulting in Sky’s independent board members withdrawing their recommendation of the offer from Fox, which already owns 39 percent of Sky.
Even if Fox beats Comcast, Murdoch’s control is unlikely to last long because he has agreed to sell many of his TV and film assets, including Sky, to Walt Disney Co in a separate $52 billion deal.
Fox had offered undertakings to fund and protect the editorial independence of Sky News in order to win backing for its bid.
Hancock’s decision came after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into whether controlling Sky would give Murdoch, who also owns the Times and Sun newspapers, too much influence on Britain’s news media.