Disney makes move on Sky News to boost Fox bid


21st Century Fox has given the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) two new proposals created to address the regulator's concerns regarding the planned takeover of British broadcaster Sky.

US cable giant Comcast gate crashed the deal in February when it said it would offer 12.50 pounds a share to buy Sky, compared to Fox's 10.75 pounds, although it has not yet made a formal bid.

The Walt Disney Co. offered to buy Sky News on Tuesday - but not because the British news channel is core to Disney's business.

To ease concerns that Murdoch, who already owns The Times and The Sun newspapers in the United Kingdom as well as radio operations, would have too much influence over the United Kingdom media market, Disney has now "expressed interest" in buying the news network.

It is one of two proposals being made by Fox as it seeks to persuade the UK's Competition and Markets Authority to approve its £11.7 billion bid for Sky. The Murdoch family already own News UK, the owner of the Times and the Sun.

Their view appeared vindicated when Comcast said it would pay 12.50 pounds a share to buy Sky, although it has not yet made a formal bid.

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He called it a "total surrender to the false campaign in the media" and said the credibility of the government was at stake. But Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party that is part of Mr Netanyahu's governing coalition, condemned the plan.

The regulator is expected to consider both proposals as it explores the latest remedies and what they mean for its stance on the deal.

The first solution offered is to legally separate Sky News from the rest of Sky, establishing the service as a distinct company within the Sky Group, with its own fully independent board and under the management control of the Head of Sky News. "These enhanced remedies went above and beyond what Ofcom, the expert, independent regulator on United Kingdom broadcasting, had stated would mitigate concerns around media plurality", Fox said in a statement. A surprise offer for Sky from Comcast, the United States cable group, at a premium to the Fox offer has further complicated the picture.

Activist hedge fund Elliott Capital has been building a substantial stake in Sky in recent months, and on Tuesday it disclosed its interest had grown to 2.84 percent. In February, Comcast jumped in with a competing $31 billion bid for Sky after missing out on the deal for Fox's entertainment assets that went to Disney.

The agency is mulling whether to recommend the Fox deal for Sky to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock for approval. Funding for Sky News would also be guaranteed for 15 years.

It provisionally ruled that Mr Murdoch would have too much influence over public opinion if the deal went ahead as planned.

Fox said it has "worked diligently" with the CMA throughout the regulator's review of the deal.