Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will allow Fox to purchase the 61% of Sky that it doesn’t already own – in return for the sale of Sky News – reducing the influence of the Murdoch family over British Media.
The next act in the play might well be the purchase of the majority of Fox’s broadcasting interests – including Sky – by Disney, anticipated to also be the new owner of Sky News, and the holder of a series of obligations to maintain the loss-making channel’s independence.
Disney, which also owns America’s ABC network has agreed to operate and maintain a Sky News-branded news service for 15 years rather than the previously proposed 10 years.
However, Hancock’s approval will also allow a straight fight for Sky and its German and Italian counterparts by Comcast.
It’s anticipated that the US cablenet and owner of NBCUniversal will submit a formal £22 billion bid for Sky. Under UK takeover rules there will then be a further 28 days during which time Fox will then be able to make a counterbid.
Disney has already been forced to raise its bid for Fox after Comcast – which wants to bolster its portfolio amid increasing competition from online players including Netflix – entered the fray.