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Fox-Sky bid faces six-month review

  • Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:45

The culture secretary has confirmed she is to refer 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky to Britain’s competition regulators.

Karen Bradley told the House of Commons that the £11.7 billion deal would be investigated over concerns relating to both media plurality and broadcasting standards. The process is likely to take six months.

In recent weeks paperwork has gone between the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and the regulator Ofcom as Ms Bradley sought clarification on a number of points. There have also been a number of high-profile representations to which she said there had been nothing to change her mind on referring the bid on grounds of media plurality to the CMA.

Of the representations Ms Bradley said around 30 of the 43,000 pieces of correspondence received were “substantive”, but a “significant majority were campaign-inspired, arguing against the merger going ahead, but generally without providing new or further evidence or commenting on Ofcom’s approach”.

One of the issues surrounded the compliance procedures for the broadcast of Fox News in the UK with action only taken after Ofcom expressed concerns. Subsequently, Sky dropped the carriage of the US news channel citing poor audience figures.

“The fact that Fox belatedly established such procedures does not ease my concerns, nor does Fox’s compliance history,” said Ms Bradley.

Corporate governance issues, although overlapping on broadcast standards, will be considered by the CMA.

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