Disney has offered to buy Sky News to help Rupert Murdoch allay media plurality concerns and push through his £11.7bn takeover of Sky.
Murdoch’s bid is being scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) amid concerns that buying the 61% of Sky he does not already own will give him too much influence over UK news media. The Murdoch family also control News UK, the owner of the Times, Sun and TalkSport radio station.
Disney has “expressed interest” in buying Sky News, a move that would clear media plurality concerns and pave the way for its own $66bn (£47bn) takeover of most of Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, including Sky.
“The Walt Disney Company has expressed an interest in acquiring Sky News, with a view to adding it to Disney’s existing portfolio of television channels, whether or not Disney’s proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox proceeds,” said Fox in a statement.
Disney is hoping to get the deal done as its US rival Comcast, which owns assets including NBC Universal, is seeking to derail it with its own £22bn bid for Sky.
Separately, Fox has further beefed up its pledge to make Sky News independent within the Sky operation. Fox has said it will fund Sky News for at least 15 years, up five years on its previous offer and 10 years more than its original proposal.
It has also said that it will look to legally separate Sky News from Sky, using the same structure BT used with Openreach, which the media regulator, Ofcom, said was enough to allay competition issues raised by rivals.
Fox said it would not seek to influence the editorial choices made by Sky News bosses.
“We offered this even though the record before the CMA shows that, over the course of nearly 30 years as Sky’s founding shareholder, neither 21CF [21st Century Fox], nor the Murdoch family trust, have ever sought to influence the editorial direction of Sky News,” Fox said.