Call it a Murdochian sleight of hand. On the face of it, the latest offers from 21st Century Fox to guarantee the independence of Sky News (thereby allowing Fox to buy the 61% of Sky plc it doesn’t own) look reassuring, especially as they are underwritten by a suggested offer from Disney to buy Sky News. Fox and the Murdochs are saying that they will ring-fence Sky News as a separate company completely and fund it for 15 years. If that isn’t enough, Disney will buy it (at a price to be agreed) and run it with its other cable channels around the globe. Easy peasy, Murdochian influence gone! But don’t be too hasty about that.
It is an elegant solution to a problem that would have almost certainly seen the Fox bid blocked completely by UK regulators because of well-held views about the Murdoch Family Trust's undue influence in the UK (already controlling Fox, The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times, to go with potential Sky News ownership) especially in political and public discourse. But where the Murdochs' shareholdings are concerned, it pays to look deeper and maintain your scepticism. Looking at the Sky News offers, you have to remember that the bigger deal is the Fox-Disney asset sale which is looking to cement the family’s global future and influence.