Sky-21st Century Fox merger: Rupert Murdoch’s takeover to be referred to competition authority – The Independent

The proposed takeover of Sky by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will be referred to the competition and markets (CMA) authority, Culture Minister Karen Bradley confirmed on Thursday.

“I will issue and publish my formal referral decision in the coming days,” she said.

Earlier this week Ms Bradley already said that she was “minded” to refer the proposed tie-up and gave the two parties ten days to respond to her decision. 

On Tuesday, she said that her concerns relate to risks around media plurality and to Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards.

“Yesterday I received letters on behalf of both parties to the merger confirming that while they disagree with my minded-to decision, they would not be making substantive representations in relation to it,” Ms Bradley said on Thursday.

“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,” she added.

She said that from the point of referral, the CMA has 24 weeks, or around six months, to conduct an investigation into the merger and provide her with advice.

She said she would then come to a final decision on whether or not the deal can proceed, including any conditions that will apply in order to do so.

Ofcom has already conducted an investigation into the possible takeover, after which the regulator raised concerns relating to the compliance procedures that Fox has in place for the broadcast of Fox News in the UK.

That report found that the company only took action to improve its approach to compliance after Ofcom expressed concerns.

On Thursday, 21st Century Fox said in a statement that “look[s] forward to engaging constructively with the CMA, as [an] independent authority, and hope[s] that the findings of this process will be respected by the Secretary of State”.

competition and markets (CMA) authority, Culture Minister Karen Bradley confirmed on Thursday.

“I will issue and publish my formal referral decision in the coming days,” she said.

Earlier this week Ms Bradley already said that she was “minded” to refer the proposed tie-up and gave the two parties ten days to respond to her decision. 

On Tuesday, she said that her concerns relate to risks around media plurality and to the commitment of broadcasting standards.

“Yesterday I received letters on behalf of both parties to the merger confirming that while they disagree with my minded-to decision, they would not be making substantive representations in relation to it,” Ms Bradley said on Thursday.

“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,” she added.

She said that from the point of referral, the CMA has 24 weeks, or around six months, to conduct an investigation into the merger and provide her with advice.

She said she would then come to a final decision on whether or not the deal can proceed, including any conditions that will apply in order to do so.

Ofcom has already conducted an investigation into the possible takeover, after which the regulator raised concerns relating to the compliance procedures that Fox has in place for the broadcast of Fox News in the UK.

That report found that the company only took action to improve its approach to compliance after Ofcom expressed concerns.

In March this year Mr Murdoch’s company formally notified the European Commission that it was bidding nearly £12bn for the European pay-TV company.

21st Century Fox struck a preliminary deal to snap up the 61 per cent of Sky that it does not already own in December last year.

If successful, the deal would likely strengthen the position of James Murdoch – who is both chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky – in his 86-year-old father’s media empire.

It would come more than five years after the media tycoon’s last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation.

Look[s] forward to engaging constructively with the CMA, as independent authority, and hope that the findings of this process will be respected by the Secretary of State.

Subject to any further delays in the decision-making process, the company said it anticipates that the transaction will close by 30 June next year.

In March this year Mr Murdoch’s company formally notified the European Commission that it was bidding nearly £12bn for the European pay-TV company.

21st Century Fox struck a preliminary deal to snap up the 61 per cent of Sky that it does not already own in December last year.

If successful, the deal would likely strengthen the position of James Murdoch – who is both chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky – in his 86-year-old father’s media empire.

It would come more than five years after the media tycoon’s last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation.

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