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Fox sweetens Sky offer with 10-year Sky News funding

21st Century Fox Inc. has offered to extend its commitment to fund Sky News (UK) to at least 10 years, in a bid to satisfy regulatory concerns over its proposed £11.7 billion takeover of British pay-TV giant Sky plc.

In a letter to the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, Fox said it would fund a "Sky-branded news service" at the current level for five years, then extend it to five more years "at a level to be determined at the time."

The new proposal is an improvement on Fox's earlier offer of "firewall remedies" at Sky News, which also included the creation of an independent editorial board to set the editorial strategy and direction for the organization's content. The board will work free of any influence from Fox executives or any member of the Murdoch family.

The 10-year funding guarantee for Sky News also matches a similar commitment by Murdoch-owned News Corp. in 2011 when it offered to buy the remaining stake in Sky that it did not own, London's The Daily Telegraph reported. That deal, however, collapsed following the phone-hacking scandal at the now-defunct newspaper News of the World.

Fox is reportedly under increased pressure to improve its offer for Sky after the latter secured a range of Premier League rights packages under a three-year contract for £1.193 billion per year.

British antitrust regulator CMA provisionally ruled in January that the Fox/Sky deal would not be "in the public interest" on media plurality grounds, as a takeover by Fox would place Sky News, The Times and The Sun all in the hands of the Murdoch Family Trust. The watchdog proposed remedies that include spinning off or divesting Sky News, blocking the deal entirely or behavioral solutions, such as appointing independent directors.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch previously said Sky News is not a "critical" part of the company's business.