21st Century Fox has offered a series of guarantees to secure backing for its takeover of British pay-TV operator Sky including a number of “firewall remedies” designed to safeguard the independence of Sky News.
The Hollywood studio revealed that it would keep a Sky-branded news service in the UK for at least five years and maintain its current level of investment. It added that it would establish a “fully independent” editorial board to oversee the news channel, which would oversee the appointment of the head of Sky News, who would have “sole responsibility for setting editorial strategy and direction for Sky News’ digital, television and radio output, including the appointment and dismissal of senior Sky News employees”. It noted that no Fox employee or member of the board would “influence or attempt to influence” editorial choices.
The guarantees were made to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which last month provisionally ruled that the takeover raised media plurality concerns surrounding the Murdoch family.
However, in the documents, which were put together by law firm Allen & Overy and published by the CMA, it added that 21st Century Fox considered the CMA’s provisional findings “contained a number of material legal and factual errors”.
This comes as Fox has spent over a year attempting to buy the 61% in Sky, which is controlled by the Murdoch Family Trust, which also controls News Corporation, the publisher of British newspapers including The Sun and The Times, that it does not currently own.
However, Fox noted that its “proposed firewall remedies” would terminate upon completion of Disney’s takeover of Fox.