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U.K. Says Fox Must Sell News Unit to Buy Sky

The British government is allowing 21st Century Fox to acquire satellite broadcaster Sky — as long as Fox sells Sky News.

Fox already owns 39% of Sky, and its $25 billion bid to buy the remaining stake has been held up by a long government review to determine if Fox would be a fit owner for Sky.

The Walt Disney Co., which has agreed to buy most of Fox’s assets, has said it is interested in buying Sky News.

But Comcast has weighed in with a bigger bid for Sky and has said it is preparing a richer bid for the other Fox assets, which include its entertainment cable networks and movie and television studios.

Fox has been trying to convince British regulators to let it buy Sky, including Sky News, but Matt Hancock, the U.K. culture secretary, said owning Sky would give Fox and Rupert Murdoch too much control over the British media.

Hancock told Parliament Sky News could be sold to Disney or to another buyer, as long as it remains viable

"I need to be confident that the final undertakings 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,” Hancock said in his report to Parliament.