The proposed merger between Twenty-First Century Fox and Sky is set to face further scrutiny from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
The government’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Karen Bradley, said today (29 June) she was minded to refer the £11.7 billion deal to the CMA for a more detailed investigation following a report by Ofcom.
In March, Bradley asked the regulator to look at whether the proposed deal would affect media plurality and broadcasting standards in the UK.
Ofcom said deal, first announced in December, raised “public interest concerns as a result of the risk of increased influence by members of the Murdoch Family Trust over the UK news agenda and the political process, with its unique presence on radio, television, in print and online”.
News Corp-owned Twenty-First Century Fox wants to acquire the 60.1 percent of Sky that it does not already own.
The acquisition would bring together the former’s FOX, National Geographic and Twentieth Century Fox Film businesses with the latter’s broadband, telephony and TV services.
It would have the third largest total reach of any news provider in UK, behind the BBC and ITV, but “uniquely” would span TV, radio, newspapers and online.
Ofcom said the proposed merger did not threaten broadcasting standards, despite noting that alleged misconduct at Fox News – the firm is faced with several sexual harassment cases by employees – amounted to “significant corporate failures”.
The Secretary of State noted that Fox had already promised to maintain the editorial independence of Sky News, but said she was "minded-not-to accept [the promises]".
The two companies have until 14 July to make further representations at which time Bradley will make a final decision.
In a statement, Sky said it would “continue to engage with the process as the Secretary of State reaches her final decision”.
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