Sky News could be sold to Walt Disney or completely ring-fenced in concessions put forward Tuesday by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox as it seeks to bolster its chances of taking full control of the United Kingdom satellite broadcaster Sky.
Twenty-First Century Fox said it could legally separate Sky News within the wider Sky group to allay the concerns of a British regulator about the news service's continuing independence under Rupert Murdoch's ownership. They argue that Mr Murdoch and his family, who also control News Corp, owner of The Sun and The Times, as well as Talksport radio, have too much influence over the United Kingdom media market.
"The big thing we still don't know is what Comcast are going to do about their potential offer for Sky, which in the short term at least has created a market in Sky shares which is far above the price that 21st Century Fox has offered", he explained.
Fox unveiled an alternative proposal as well: completely separating Sky News from its parent company, giving the news provider its own board of directors and agreeing to fund it for 15 years. That's a slightly stronger version of an idea which media watchdog Ofcom, the first regulator to review the deal, said would "mitigate" concerns.
Fox had already pledged to ensure the independence of Sky News.
Should Disney take Sky News out of the equation however then those concerns could be erased at a stroke, smoothing over a rocky road to the deals conclusion.
The group, which has a broadband arm serving 29 million U.S. customers, owns NBC and Universal Pictures and wants to seize more than 50 per cent of Sky.
Separate news on Tuesday that Sky Italia had settled its long-running fight with Mediaset in the Italian pay-TV market also made Sky more valuable, they added.
In February, Comcast announced plans to bid GBP22.1 billion ($31.04 billion), or GBP12.50 a share, for all of Sky, well above Fox's offer of GBP10.75 a share. A final decision on the transaction by Matt Hancock, Britain's culture secretary, is expected on June 13.
"The fact that Disney has agreed this today suggests that the next thing to expect is a revised bid from Fox/Disney for Sky, to match or beat Comcast's offer".