Monday 28 May 2018

UK opens full review of €13bn bid for Sky TV by Murdoch's Fox

Rupert Murdoch’s US TV arm makes hit shows, including ‘Family Guy’ (pictured) and ‘The Simpsons’
Rupert Murdoch’s US TV arm makes hit shows, including ‘Family Guy’ (pictured) and ‘The Simpsons’

Joe Mayes and Rebecca Penty

The UK government moved forward with a wide-ranging review of 21st Century Fox's £11.7bn (€13.15bn) bid for pay-TV company Sky, opening Rupert Murdoch and his media empire to fresh scrutiny.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said yesterday that she has made a final decision to refer the deal to the nation's competition regulator for an investigation that will assess Fox's commitment to broadcasting standards and whether the takeover would give the Murdoch family too much sway in the country's media.

The Competition and Markets Authority review is expected to take months, and Fox has said it would push the deal's completion to mid-2018. "My minded to decision is now final and I will now refer the merger to the CMA," Ms Bradley said.

The delay adds uncertainty and costs to Fox's acquisition of the 61pc it doesn't already own of Sky.

Murdoch's second effort at acquiring Sky - the first one scuppered by a phone-hacking scandal at his British newspapers - would give the billionaire control of one of Europe's most influential pay-TV distribution platforms.

It would also widen Fox's revenue streams and geographical footprint and boost its drama and sports content.

Ms Bradley's announcement comes hours before she's due to deliver a keynote address at a conference in Cambridge attended by heavy-hitters in Britain's broadcast industry including Fox CEO James Murdoch, who is also scheduled to speak at the event.

Ms Bradley said on Tuesday that she planned to send the deal to the CMA on both grounds, reversing an earlier plan to refer it only over media-plurality concerns.

She gave the companies time to respond before finalising the decision, but she said yesterday that Fox and Sky had informed her that while they disagreed with her decision, they wouldn't be making substantive comments.

Fox managers now face the prospect of months of interrogation over recent events the scandal-hit business and past corporate governance failings at Murdoch media outlets. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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