Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has paved the way for a bidding war between Fox and Comcast for control of Sky UK.
The UK government has decided that both Comcast and Fox can bid for the ownership of Sky UK, although with a caveat for any potential Fox takeover.
Should Fox win the expected bidding war between the two media giants, it would have to sell Sky News.
Fox has been attempting to gain control of the 60% of Sky UK that it doesn’t own for some years, however the UK government had concerns that it would give Rupert Murdoch too much power and influence over the British media landscape.
Murdoch already owns a string of media outlets including influential newspaper and tabloid publications.
With Comcast coming into the fray back in February with a suprise bid for Sky, the government have cleared their offering with no stipulation on spinning off Sky News.
Both companies will now enter into a round of discussions with the government, which is seeking undertakings for the secure future of Sky News in whatever form it takes.
Matt Hancock, speaking about the discussions said that the urgency surrounding the commencement of them was; “so we can all be confident Sky News can be divested in a way that works for the long-term.
“I am optimistic that we can achieve this goal. However, if we can’t agree terms at this point, then I agree with the CMA that the only effective remedy now would be to block the merger altogether. This is not my preferred approach.”
Another twist in the saga however, comes from Fox, which is itself in the midst of selling some of its assets to a third major media player on the United States of America, Disney. The sale to Disney includes Fox’s shareholding in Sky UK, and should Fox be successful in taking complete control of Sky, it could ultimately end up under the ownership of Disney.