Walt Disney Could Take Over Sky News to Ease Rupert Murdoch’s $16.5 Billion Broadcaster Bid

April 3, 2018, 9:09 AM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

With British competition regulators having provisionally rejected 21st Century Fox’s $16.5 billion bid to take over the British broadcast giant Sky, Fox has returned with new solutions that it hopes will please the watchdogs.

The latest proposals could see Walt Disney taking over Sky News, the 24-hour news channel.

Sky News’s fate is one of the biggest sticking points in this takeover saga. Fox’s purchase of Sky, in which it already owns a 39% stake, would place the news operation in the hands of Rupert Murdoch. With Murdoch already owning the influential Sun and Times newspapers and other U.K. assets, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the merger could end up acting against the public interest.

So Fox has proposed splitting off Sky News from Sky, and setting it up as a completely independent company. It had already proposed funding Sky News for 10 years; now it’s upped that period to 15 years.

Meanwhile, Disney—the media giant that is trying to buy much of Fox—has offered to buy Sky News, whether or not its broader Fox buyout goes ahead.

Fox revealed the two options in a submission to the CMA on Tuesday. “We have proposed a set of solutions that address and resolve any and all questions or concerns that may have been raised by the transaction,” said Fox group general counsel Gerson Zweifach.

Sky and Disney also said they were keen to push forward. “Sky believes that both of these remedy proposals comprehensively address any plurality concerns the CMA may have,” Sky said in a statement.

Fox isn’t the only one trying to buy Sky. To complicate matters, in late February, Comcast swooped in with a higher rival bid.