Ofcom has submitted a public interest report to the Government on the proposed acquisition of Sky by 21st Century Fox.
On March 16th 2017, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport issued a European intervention notice, which asked Ofcom to report on public interest considerations in respect of plans by 21st Century Fox to acquire the shares in Sky it does not already own.
Specifically, Ofcom was asked to consider whether there would be sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises; and whether the parties would have genuine commitment to the attainment in relation to broadcasting of standards objectives.
The Secretary of State will now decide whether to refer the proposed deal to the Competition and Markets Authority for a ‘phase two’ inquiry. The Secretary of State has said she intends to announce – by June 29th – whether or not she is minded to refer the merger, and to publish Ofcom’s public interest report at the same time.
Ofcom has an ongoing duty to be satisfied that broadcasting licensees are fit and proper holders of a licence. This means that we can assess a licensee at any time, on our own initiative, as well as being able to respond to concerns raised by third parties.
On March 6th 2017 we announced that we would examine any implications of a change of control over Sky for its holding of broadcast licences. Because the issues we have considered in the public-interest and fit and proper assessments overlap, we have considered these matters within the same timeframe.
Ofcom provided its fit and proper assessment to the Secretary of State. Ofcom will publish that assessment when the Secretary of State announces her ‘minded-to’ decision and publishes the public interest report.