Fox's takeover of Sky referred to the UK's competition regulator

Andrew Cummings
September 14, 2017

United Kingdom culture secretary Karen Bradley said Thursday that she had asked regulators to examine the takeover because of concerns over 21st Century Fox's "genuine commitment to broadcasting standards" and the increased influence the deal would give the Murdoch family over British media.

Now, Bradley has confirmed she is "minded-to-refer the merger to the CMA on the grounds of genuine commitment to broadcasting standards".

Culture secretary Karen Bradley (pictured) announced her final decision today, after saying earlier this week that she was minded to refer the deal over concerns about both broadcasting standards and media plurality. The review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will focus on media plurality, or competitive effects of the deal, and issues of commitment to the United Kingdom broadcasting standards. Previously, Bradley had only been inclined to send the bid to the authority for scrutiny of media plurality issues.

Bradley said Thursday that Fox and Sky had decided against making further substantive responses to her concerns and therefore she was ordering an immediate review.

Ms Bradley's announcement sets up a potentially awkward encounter with James Murdoch, who is chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky, at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge on Thursday, where they are both scheduled to speak.

"We now look forward to engaging constructively with the CMA, as independent authority, and hope that the findings of this process will be respected by the Secretary of State", Fox said. "I must then come to a final decision on whether or not the merger can proceed, including any conditions". "We note the swift decision to now refer this to the CMA and will continue to engage constructively in this process". Sky share prices fell 4% on the news of the CMA review, recovering to close 1.6% down.

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