Wednesday 21 March 2018

Sky takeover in doubt over standards at Murdoch's US empire

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Kate Holton and Paul Sandle

Rupert Murdoch's planned $15bn (€12.5bn) takeover of European broadcaster Sky was thrown into doubt on Tuesday when Britain toughened its stance on the deal over concerns about standards at his US Fox News network.

British Media Secretary Karen Bradley had already wanted regulators to scrutinise the increased influence Mr Murdoch would gain from fully owning Sky, but in an unexpected twist she said they should also examine whether he had a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.

The announcement sent London-listed shares in Sky down 5pc, before they recovered to trade at 937 pence, well below the £10.75 pounds per share Twenty-First Century Fox has agreed to pay for the 69pc of Sky it does not already own.

"I consider it important that entities which adopt controversial or partisan approaches to news and current affairs in other jurisdictions should, at the same time, have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards here," Ms Bradley told parliament.

She said the Competition and Markets Authority should also look into corporate governance at the right-leaning Fox.

The news network has been rocked by a series of sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, leading to high-profile resignations including former CEO Roger Ailes and anchor Bill O'Reilly.

Sky stopped broadcasting Fox News in Britain last month, a decision it said was prompted by low audience numbers. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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