Disney Expected to Add Cash for Fox Assets, Counter Comcast Bid

Marco Green
June 19, 2018

Sky News has received a 15-year funding commitment from entertainment giant Disney in the latest twist in the takeover battle for its parent company Sky.

Disney will also be restricted from selling Sky News for 15 years without the agreement of the Culture Secretary and, in addition, gave a formal commitment to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News.

And he said any buyer would have to guarantee that Sky News remained financially viable, continued to operate as a major UK-based news provider and was able to make editorial decisions independently and free from any potential outside influence.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox must increase the funding of Sky News to at least £100m a year as a precondition of taking full control of Sky, the culture secretary has said.

Fox has agreed to sell the bulk of its assets, including its Sky stake, to Disney in a $52.4bn (£39bn) deal. Disney seems to want the Fox Studios movie and TV assets, which is an obvious fit.

"Following the successful conclusion of these discussions and the resolution of these issues, I am today publishing updated undertakings offered by 21CF along with new undertakings offered by Disney for the divestment of Sky News to Disney", he said.

Hancock has launched a 15-day consultation on whether the undertakings will solve public interest concerns that taking full control of Sky, and with it Sky News, would give Murdoch to much power over United Kingdom news media. That would allow Fox to table a new offer to rival Comcast's.

New installments in the ongoing Fox-Disney merger saga are becoming as numerous as the films the expanding MCU catalog itself, and with stock prices that fluctuate on news of this kind, there's more in play with Fox's choice of a suitor than the mere cash valuation of the offer it selects.

Hancock's condition means that Fox will have to top up any shortfall in funding to keep Sky News's budget at £100m for the next 15 years. Before Comcast made its offer, shareholders had been scheduled to vote to approve the pact with Disney.

Not too long after Comcast outbid Disney's offer for the movie and TV branch of 21st Century Fox, the news is that the House of Mouse is ready to sweeten their initial pot.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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