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Murdoch pledges funding to Sky News

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MUMBAI: Even as 21st Century Fox seeks clearance for its £11.7 billion (€13.2 billion) takeover of Sky, Rupert Murdoch has pledged to guarantee funding Sky News for up to five years. He has also agreed not to interfere editorially.

Fox has also pledged that no Fox employee or board member who was a trustee or beneficiary of the Murdoch family trust “will influence or attempt to influence the editorial choices made by the head of Sky News”.

Fox has strengthened the so-called “firewall” remedies it had already tabled, including “establishing a fully independent, expert Sky News editorial board”. This would be made up of two existing independent directors of Sky and a third member nominated by the Sky independent directors who would have “senior editorial and/or journalistic experience”.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had said in its provisional findings last month that Murdoch’s bid raised media plurality concerns because the deal would give his family too much control over UK news media.

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch cast doubt on the future of Sky News saying that the service was no longer critical to the pay-TV broadcaster. Sky has previously said that it could close Sky News if the Fox deal was blocked, a move that would eliminate the media plurality issue at a stroke.

Fox did not submit any responses to the CMA’s consultation on other options for Sky News, including a full sale or spin-off.

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