U.K. Cultural Secretary Ups Sky Ownership Requirements, Including $2 Billion Fiscal Support

Owning British satellite TV operator Sky Plc just got a lot more expensive.

The British government June 19 laid out additional requirements to the ongoing £15 billion equity stake sale of Sky to 21stCentury Fox, which is turn is being coveted by The Walt Disney Co. and Comcast in separate acquisition bids.

At issue is the financial and editorial independence of Sky News, one of the largest news channels in the United Kingdom.

Matt Hancock, U.K. Cultural Secretary, disclosed that Disney had agreed to operate and maintain an editorially independent Sky News branded news service for 15 years rather than 10 years. It also agreed to not sell Sky News for 15 years without the consent of the government.

Disney and Fox also agreed to increase annual Sky News funding by £100 million ($132 million) – which amounts to nearly $2 billion over the course of the agreement.

“In my view, these revised undertakings meet the criteria that I set out to the House 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 UK-based news provider; and is able to take its editorial decisions independently, free from any potential outside influence,” Hancock said in a statement.

Public input on the proposed merger is open until July 4.

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