Disney offers to buy Sky News to aid Murdoch bid

Fox - which for a long time has sought to buy the 61% of British pay TV giant Sky that it does not already own - has also offered to ring-fence the 24-hour news channel instead, it said in a statement, as it looks to allay concerns over Murdoch's increasing media influence.

USA cable giant Comcast gate crashed the deal in February when it said it would offer 12.50 pounds a share to buy Sky, compared to Fox's 10.75 pounds, although it has not yet made a formal bid.

Walt Disney is making a bid to buy Sky News that would help Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox attempted takeover of Sky that was blocked by the United Kingdom regulators, according to a document submitted Tuesday to British regulator.

The deal, announced in December, is expected to take up to two years to secure approval from regulators.

The CMA found the deal would not be against the public interest for broadcasting standards. His existing properties, including the newspapers The Sun and The Times of London, reach a third of British consumers. Comcast launched its own $31 billion offer for Sky in February.

The competition regulator is expected to offer its recommendation on Fox's bid for Sky by May 1. "These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality", said 21st Century Fox in a statement.

Liberum said the agreement suggests Mediaset is likely to exit its pay-TV business and sell its stake to Sky.

In December, Fox agreed to a $52.4 billion stock offer from Walt Disney for its entertainment assets and worldwide units, including its stake in Sky. Fox noted that over the course of almost 30 years as Sky's founding shareholder, neither it, nor the Murdoch Family Trust, have ever sought to influence the editorial direction of Sky News. His readiness to buy Sky News therefore signals a clear commitment to owning Sky.

The authority has until May 1 to make a final recommendation to the United Kingdom government, which then must decide whether to back the Fox-Sky deal, approve it with conditions or reject it. At least 75% of Sky's shareholders, not including Fox, need to support the takeover, which faces competition from Comcast.

Sky also said the proposals would address regulatory concerns.

"We have proposed a set of solutions that address and resolve any and all questions or concerns that may have been raised by the transaction", Gerson Zweifach, Fox's general counsel, said in an emailed statement.

  • David Armstrong