In a series of tweets, UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said it would not block the takeover of Sky, owner of Sky News, by 21st Century Fox. Hancock said divesting Sky News to Disney as proposed by Fox would be the most appropriate remedy to allay public interest concerns. Regarding Comcasts latest bid for Sky, the secretary said this did not raise any public interest concerns and that he does not intend to stop any possible transaction. Sky News reported Hancock adding that any deal would have to guarantee the financial viability and independence of Sky News over the long-term.
Sky welcomed the statements by Hancock regarding the takeover of Sky by Fox and Comcast. Sky noted that officials from the Ministry for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have now been instructed to look towards final undertakings with Fox. Depending on these discussions, Hancock hope to be in a position to consult on any agreed final undertakings within the next two weeks.
Fox responded to the news by saying it looks forward to working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and that it was confident it would reach a final decision that would clear its transaction.
Fox made a bid for Sky in late 2016 which raised questions around media plurality. One of the remedies proposed was to give ringfence Sky News, or sell it to Disney. Since then, Comcast made a bid for Sky, outbidding Fox’s, and Disney made a bid for certain Fox assets. Faced with a possible bidding war, Sky said it will act in the interests of the company and its shareholders. – Telecompaper