Clearance by government for the Sky bid of Fox

Clearance by government for the Sky bid of Fox

The UK plans to approve a proposal by Mr Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to acquire Sky Plc, the largest pay-TV provider in the country.

The British government has provisionally approved Fox's £11.7bn (€13.38bn) bid to buy Sky, provided the Rupert Murdoch-owned company sells Sky News to assuage media plurality concerns.

As part of his duties to examine all such bids, Hancock confirmed that he was required to consider whether a Sky merger with Comcast raised the same public interest concerns meeting the threshold for intervention, as set out in Section 58 of the UK Enterprise Act 2002, which have dogged the Sky bid to date.

Sky is known in Europe for its live football (soccer in the US) broadcasts as well as for premium content such as HBO's "Game of Thrones" and in-house productions such as "Fortitude" and "Britannia".

Comcast's offer includes a guarantee to fund Sky News at current levels for 10 years and establish an independent editorial board.

In December a year ago, Fox sold most of its film and studio assets to Disney in a multi-billion dollar deal, with an agreement that the U.S. giant would "assume full ownership of Sky" once Fox's takeover bid was complete.

"Were the Fox-Disney deal to fail it could leave Sky News isolated from Sky and owned by a foreign company with few news interests in the United Kingdom", the West Bromwich East MP said. The latter would see Fox buy the 61% of Sky that it doesn't already own, in a deal that was resurrected at the end of 2016.

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Fox previously put forward a remedy to this issue, telling regulators it would sell off Sky News to a third party, possibly Disney.

However, he added that if it can't agree such terms that "the only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether".

In a statement, Disney said: "We welcome today's announcement from the secretary of state and are ready to engage in any discussions requested by the secretary of state".

Should Fox succeed in its bid for Sky, the Murdochs would likely soon step aside, with both the Walt Disney Company and Comcast bidding in the USA for the bulk of Fox's media assets.

Fox's offer is for 1,075p a share, while Comcast's improved offer values each Sky share at 1,250p.

Sky's board has already indicated that it plans to engage exclusively with Comcast though.

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