The Fox – Sky takeover is not yet a done deal. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found the deal to be against the public interest. This is on the grounds that it would give the Murdoch family too much control over UK news providers. Fox currently owns 39% of Sky and is now seeking to purchase the remaining 61%.
The CMA has stated its concern that excessive control over the UK media by outsiders. This may influence the coverage of UK elections and influence voters. Fox has stated a commitment to establish an independent board to run Sky News. This board would maintain Sky’s news channels for at least five years. However, the Disney-Sky relationship is also a concern.
Fox – Sky Takeover: Ultimate Ownership of Sky by Disney?
Disney has proposed a takeover of the majority of Fox’s business, a deal that is currently being considered by US regulators. Should this deal be approved, it would include Disney owning Fox’s 39% ownership of Sky. Should Fox takeover the remaining 61%, then ultimately all of Sky could be totally owned by Disney. The CMA is almost sure to take this possibility into consideration.
Might Sky News be Treated Separately?
The CMA has previously proposed potential remedies for the concern regarding excessive ownership of UK media. Apart from preventing the deal from proceeding, the CMA stated that Sky News could be insulated from the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) or even selling Sky News off to another company. The rest of Sky activities could then be passed on without any issue regarding the news aspect of the Fox – Sky takeover deal.
Fox Suggestions to Overcome Sky News Problem
Fox itself has offered a number of solutions to this issue. It has offered to strengthen its guarantee of the independence of Sky News and set up a Sky News editorial board that would be free from any influence by 21CF (21st Century Fox) employees.
If it is only the issue regarding Sky News that is holding up the Fox – Sky takeover, and not Sky in general, then it seems sensible to separate Sky News from the other activities of Sky. The latter could then be passed onto Fox and perhaps then onto Disney without issue. Or is this too simple of a solution: is there some ulterior reason why Fox finds this unacceptable?
Regulator Final Report on Fox – Sky Takeover by May Day
It is debatable what the ultimate outcome of the proposed Fox – Sky takeover may be. However, for now, it appears as though the UK Competition and Markets Authority will need more cast iron evidence that Fox, or 21CF, will have no influence over the content of Sky News in the UK. The regulator’s final report will be made to Matt Hancock, the UK Cultural Secretary, by May 1st and a decision will be made by June 14th.