Culture Secretary Matt Hancock says Twenty-First Century Fox will be allowed to take over Sky provided the satellite broadcaster’s 24 hour news channel is sold off to Disney or another entity outside of Rupert Murdoch’s control.
The channel’s future editorial independence has become a key issue in whether to allow Fox’s bid for Sky to proceed, with some politicians and other opponents claiming Mr Murdoch’s control of several UK newspapers would gift him an unacceptable level of influence over the UK news market.
In January the Competition and Markets Authority agreed, saying the deal “is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns.”
In response Fox put forward several potential remedies, including selling Sky News to Disney. Today Mr Hancock said this option would be a pre-condition of him allowing the deal to go-ahead.
Disney is itself in the midst of taking over Fox’s TV and movie interests, meaning Sky and its news channel could be reunited further down the line.
However in recent weeks Comcast has emerged as a rival bidder for Sky.
Hancock told MPs that this bid would not face a public interest investigation as Comcast does not have a major presence in the British news market.
Tom Watson, Labour’s culture spokesperson, has raised concerns that if Sky News is sold to Disney but its current parent company is bought by Comcast, the channel may not have a viable longterm future and urged Hancock to ensure any remedy addresses such an outcome.