Sky says news is not a critical part of its business

FILE PHOTO: The Sky logo is seen outside of an entrance to offices and studios in west London, Britain June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Sky SKYB.L said Sky News was not a "critical" part of its customer offer, and no longer owning the 24-hour news channel would not make a material difference to its business.

Sky News this week emerged as the major block to Rupert Murdoch buying the shares in Sky it does not already own, although there are options that would allow the $15.7 billion deal to go through.

Regulators want Twenty-First Century Fox FOXA.O to guarantee the independence of Sky News under Murdoch, who already owns The Sun and the Times newspapers. Options include spinning the loss-making service off into a separate company or selling it, analysts have said.

Sky has already warned regulators that they should not assume it will continue to fund Sky News if the takeover is blocked.

Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch told analysts after the company reported results on Thursday that Sky News was not as important as it was when Sky launched in 1989.

“I wouldn’t describe Sky News as critical to the business today, indeed I wouldn’t really pick any part of our business and say it is critical,” he said.

“If for any reason we didn’t have Sky News I don’t think that would be material, if you like, in terms of the direction of the business.”

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Adrian Croft