Sky News could be separated from the rest of BSkyB under News Corp’s plans to take full control of the pay-TV broadcaster.
Citing three people familiar with talks between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Rupert Murdoch-owned media group, the Financial Times said the idea has been proposed by News Corp in order to remove the need for a lengthy review of the takeover.
A wide range of commentators, including the Church of England, have objected to the acquisition of the digital TV outfit on the grounds that it would damage the plurality of the UK media.
If the move was to go ahead without Sky News being detached from the rest of the group, it would give News Corp control of one of the biggest TV and radio current affairs providers, as well as having the greatest market share of the national press.
Ofcom is understood to have recommended to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt that News Corp’s bid to take full control of Sky should be referred to the Competition Commission due to its potential impact on media plurality in the UK.
A Competition Commission probe would take at least six months to complete, during which time the market price for Sky could increase massively.
To avoid that scenario, it is thought that News Corp executives have suggested a number of measures to offset the media plurality concerns.
Among those is the idea of separating Sky News, but opponents claim that it is unclear who else would be prepared to subsidise the loss-making channel.