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Disney Offers to Take on Sky News for 15 Years; Channel to Get $2 Billion Investment

Disney has offered British authorities a commitment to operate Sky News for 15 years and to refrain from selling it without the U.K. government’s permission. For its part, 21st Century Fox has offered new commitments in an attempt to get its $15 billion bid for Sky over the finish line, including a promise to fund Sky News for 15 years, five more than it had previously offered.

Under the proposed plans, Sky News would receive guaranteed funding of £100 million ($132 million) a year.

The British government set out its agreement Tuesday with Disney and 21st Century Fox over Sky, if Fox’s bid to take over Sky succeeds. The agreement focuses on how Sky plans to divest Sky News, and the assurances necessary for the news channel’s long-term viability and editorial independence.

“In my view, these revised undertakings [commitments] meet the criteria that I set out to the House [of Commons] on 5 June and will help to ensure that Sky News remains financially viable over the long term; is able to operate as a major U.K.-based news provider; and is able to take its editorial decisions independently, free from any potential outside influence,” British culture secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement.

Fox had already agreed to meet the British competition watchdog’s proposed remedies by the time Hancock spoke to Parliament earlier this month and made offloading Sky News a condition to the Fox bid gaining approval.

Hancock has now opened a consultation. That ends on July 4 and at that point he is expected to make a final decision.

Opposition to the Fox bid remains fierce in the U.K. Lobby group Avaaz has been a vocal opponent and was in the High Court in London on Tuesday seeking to persuade a judge that media regulator Ofcom’s June 2017 decision that Fox and the Murdoch family would be fit and proper owners of all of Sky was flawed.

If Avaaz is successful Ofcom would be forced to carry out its evaluation again.

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