Murdoch’s Sky bid referred to watchdog

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has confirmed that 21st Century Fox’s proposed bid to acquire the remaining shares in Sky that it does not already own will be referred to competition regulators in the “coming days”.

Bradley said the deal would be examined “on media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards grounds”. The Competition and Markets Authority will provide its response within 24 weeks of the referral. Bradley will then decide whether the deal may proceed.

Having advised on September 12th that she was minded to refer the bid to the Competition and Market Authority (CMA), Bradley told MPs that although she received letters from Fox and Sky voicing their disagreement with the decision, they would not be making substantive representations in relation to it.

“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 said in a Statement. She added that she would issue and publish her formal referral decision in the coming days, and would also publish the substantive representations she had received during this process shortly..

Fox already owns 39 per cent of Sky but wants full control of the European satellite broadcaster. However, some fear it would give Rupert Murdoch’s family, which controls Fox, too large a presence in the UK media.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert, says he is confident 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky would survive a more extensive regulatory review requested by the British government, adding that he was happy “we have a clock on this now”.

“Obviously we were disappointed” [by the decision to call in the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to examine the bid], Murdoch said. “But we’re also looking forward to engaging with the CMA. We’re confident that it goes through.”

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