Bradley confirms Fox-Sky decision

Gladys Abbott
September 14, 2017

Fox already owns 39% of Sky but announced in December a year ago that it launching a fresh bid to acquire the rest of the company.

The UK government has confirmed that 21st Century Fox's planned £18.5 billion (€20.5 billion) takeover of Sky will be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority.

"As a result, I can confirm my final decision is to refer the merger to the CMA for a Phase 2 investigation on media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards grounds".

Karen Bradley, the Conservative government's minister for culture, media and sport, said she had referred the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) owing to concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards.

Fox said it had already written to Bradley "expressing disappointment that she had changed her mind" on the "fit and proper" question, against the advice of British regulator Ofcom, which had said it foresaw no problems on that score.

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In a letter to Bradley in July, the lawmakers argued that an initial review by Britain's media regulator had failed to address whether Sky's news division was at risk of becoming more like the American news channel.

She did say that further review of 21st Century Fox's governance was warranted, as well as the procedures the company had in place for ensuring its broadcast of Fox News in the United Kingdom complied with broadcasting standards.

That surprise sent London-listed shares in Sky down 5 percent before they later recovered. "I must then come to a final decision on whether or not the merger can proceed, including any conditions".

The media mogul's critics have also pointed to the phone-hacking scandal involving journalists at his now-defunct News of the World tabloid which forced him to drop a previous attempt to buy Sky in 2011.

On Wednesday, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox's executive chairman, called the Sky takeover his company's "No. 1 priority."

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