The Walt Disney Company looks set to acquire Sky News after UK Culture Minister Matt Hancock gave his go-ahead to the deal.
Hancock has started a 15-day comment period for other parties.
He said he agreed with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that “divesting Sky News to Disney, as proposed by Fox, or to an alternative suitable buyer, with an agreement to ensure it is funded for at least 10 years, is likely to be the most proportionate and effective remedy for the public interest concerns that have been identified.”
He added that a CMA report to his department set out some draft terms for such a divestment, “and Fox has written to me to offer undertakings on effectively the same terms,” including “significant commitments” from Fox. But he added that “some important issues” remain, “which still need to be addressed.”
Added Hancock: “I need to be confident that the final undertakings ensure that Sky News remains financially viable over the long-term; is able to operate as a major UK-based news provider; and is able to take its editorial decisions independently, free from any potential outside influence.”
These undertakings offered on improved terms will include:
- a commitment from Disney to operate and maintain a Sky News branded news service for 15 years rather than 10 years
- a restriction on Disney from selling Sky News for 15 years without the consent of the Secretary of State
- an extension of the funding commitment from 21st Century Fox from 10 years to 15 years
- an increase in the total funds available to Sky News, to at least £100 million per year, with operating costs protected in real terms
- a formal commitment from Disney to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News
In its own statement, Sky said:
“The Secretary of State has said that the revised undertakings offered by 21st Century Fox and Disney successfully meet the criteria he set out to Parliament on to address the concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority in respect of media plurality. The Secretary of State has confirmed that the undertakings are now in a form he proposes to accept.”
“As 21st Century Fox has received all other competition and regulatory approvals in relation to its offer for Sky, the approval process remains the only outstanding pre-condition prior to 21st Century Fox’s offer being put to Sky shareholders. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”