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21st Century Fox Offers "Firewall Remedies" To Push Through Sky Deal

12 February 2018

Nonetheless it said its proposed remedies, based on putting a "firewall" around the 24-hour news channel, went to the heart of addressing the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) concerns.

Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox has pledged to keep Sky News independent as it looks to assuage concerns related to its proposed acquisition of Sky (LON:SKY).

Last month the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally deemed that the Murdoch family would consequently have "too much control over news providers in the United Kingdom across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

21st Century Fox says it is willing to commit to a Sky-branded news service for at least five years.

Documents published by the CMA on Monday revealed the additional safeguards proposed by 21CF as it seeks to bring its 14-month pursuit of Sky to a swift conclusion.

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's proposals call for an independent board to have "sole responsibility for setting editorial strategy and direction for Sky News' digital, television and radio output".

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.

Murdoch-owned Fox has been trying to buy the 61% of Sky that it does not own since December 2016.

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

Last year Rupert Murdoch's firm announced plans to takeover the remaining stake of Sky, however, the United Kingdom government referred the proposed deal to the competition authorities to review.

The UK regulator, according to the BBC, is due to present its final report to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by 1 May.

Analysts believe if this $50bn deal goes ahead, leaving Disney as Sky's owner, regulatory issues would disappear.

The latest proposals include a so-called "sunset clause" relating to the separate agreement between The Walt Disney Company to buy 21CF's entertainment assets - including its 39% Sky stake - for $52bn.