Rupert Murdoch has committed to maintaining Sky News in the UK “for at least five years” as he looks to push through his bid to buy the 61 per cent of Sky he doesn’t already own.
The media mogul, who sold Sky to Disney last year, has said he is prepared to maintain “equivalent levels of investment” to those currently being made in a “Sky-branded news service” over the five-year period.
The proposal is part of a list of “remedies” issued by Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox following a provisional ruling by the UK’s competition watchdog last month that Fox’s £12bn bid to takeover Sky was not in the public interest on media plurality grounds.
The Competition and Markets Authority said the takeover would lead to the Murdoch Family Trust, which controls Fox and News Corp (ultimate owners of the Sun and Times newspapers), having “too much control over news providers in the UK across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”.
In response, Fox has today issued a commitment to establish a “fully independent” and “expert” Sky News Editorial Board which alone would oversee the appointment of the head of Sky News, control their pay package and record any matters they escalate to it.
The board will be made up of independent members with UK media experience and oversee any changes to the Sky News editorial guidelines, which Fox said had been amended to offer further safeguards giving the head of Sky News “complete control over editorial matters” and editorial staff.
Fox said the board’s control over “key decision-making” means it would be “insulating these decisions from any form of external influence”, including by members of the Murdoch family.
The company has also pledged that no employee will attempt to influence the editorial choices made by the head of Sky News, including the running order of stories and political comment.
It said the proposed “firewall” remedies represented “a comprehensive and clear cut solution that directly addresses the origin of the CMA’s adverse provisional findings” in relation media plurality concerns and provide a basis for remedial action by the Culture Secretary.
Disney bought out Fox in a deal worth $52.4bn (£39bn) in December.
Disney acquired the 39 per cent of Sky currently owned by Fox and “full ownership” of the broadcaster if and when the Sky takeover bid is completed, according to the terms of the deal.
Picture: Reuters/Mike Segar