21st Century Fox has vowed to maintain the editorial independence of Sky News and to continue funding the loss-making channel for a period of five years in an effort to dampen regulatory concerns at its looming takeover.
The Murdoch-owned media giant is seeking to wrest control of the channel as part of a $15.7bn takeover of pay TV provider Sky, but its rolling 24-hour news channel has proven to be the main stumbling block hindering this move.
Now Fox has moved to assuage concerns by pledging to set up a fully independent board in a bid to win over the UK competition regulator and clear the way for it to acquire the remaining 61% stake in Sky. In addition to the carrot Fox is also wielding a stick by threatening to kill off the station completely if its ambitions are thwarted.
In a statement Fox wrote: “The combined effect of the Proposed Firewall Remedies is that there could be no circumstances in which, post-transaction, the MFT (Murdoch family trust) or members of the Murdoch family could influence, whether directly or indirectly, the editorial line or policy of Sky News.”
Complicating matters further is the impending $52.4bn takeover of Fox itself by Disney, which would see it become the owner of Fox’s international TV business – including Sky.