A Fox bid for Sky appears to be preferred by the British government to a Fox – Comcast bidding war. However, such a contest for Sky seems to have been set up by the UK government. 21st Century Fox owned by Rupert Murdoch and US cable giant Comcast have both been cleared by UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock. However, the Fox bid is contingent upon it selling Sky news.
Fox Bid For Sky Depends on Disney Buying Sky News
Fox currently owns 39% of Sky, and has been seeking to purchase the other 69% since 1961. British regulators have prevented it from doing so on the basis that it may give Murdoch too much control of UK media. It may now do so if it agrees to sell off Sky News. Fox has been trying to sell Sky News to Disney should the deal be successfully completed. However, Disney had separately come to a deal with Fox to purchase its entertainment assets including Sky News, which solves the problem.
Comcast Enters With Highest Bid
However, Comcast complicated matters when it entered the bidding with a bid offer for Sky in February. Comcast offered £22 billion for Sky which was higher than the £18.5 billion offer from Fox. So, it is still unsure who the ultimate buyer will be. Comcast has an advantage in that it does not have to sell Sky News if it wins since there is no conflict involved with UK regulators regarding media control.
The UK Culture Department will now hold talks with Fox, Disney, and Sky in an attempt to resolve this issue in some way. Mr. Hancock must be confident that any deal would ensure the continuation of the financial viability of Sky News. It must also be able to continue as a major news provider based in the UK and with independent editorial decision-making rights. The Fox bid for Sky meets these conditions with Disney’s involvement.
Fox and Sky Confident
Should no viable solution be agreed under these terms, then the merger would be blocked. Both Fox and Sky are confident that a deal will be made. Otherwise, Sky News could become owned by Comcast which has very little interest in UK news. That would not be in the public interest according to Shadow Culture Secretary, UK Labour’s Tom Watson. The Fox bid for Sky seems preferred by the UK.