The Government has received the first salvo in what will be a long lobbying war over News Corp’s proposed takeover of Sky.
Claire Enders of Enders Analysis, has bestowed a 20-page submission on Mr Business Secretary Vince Cable (assumed to be instinctively against the deal), urging him to step in or face media plurality in Britain falling to an “unacceptably low level”.
News Corp owns the biggest stable of UK national newspapers and already holds 39.9 per cent of Sky, and has now made made a 700p-a-share bid to take complete control of the pay broadcaster. Sky’s independent directors rejected the offer, but talks are continuing.
Enders says the deal needs “urgent attention” from the Government. The Government has the power to block the deal on plurality grounds under the 2003 Communications Act. Its interpretation of ‘plurality’ requires the British media to include ‘a significant number of broadcasters and newspapers appealing to a wide variety of tastes.’
Enders points out that News Corp already owns more media in the UK than would be allowed in the US or Australia and that buying Sky would improve its competitive edge and open “several new strategic opportunities.”