Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has indicated that Comcast’s $31 billion (€25.4bn) bid for Sky does not raise the same concerns as the initial, rival bid by Fox for the 61 per cent of the broadcaster it does not already own.
In a Statement, Hancock said: “On 7 May 2018, Comcast Corporation formally notified the European Commission of its intention to acquire the entire issued share capital of Sky plc. Under section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (‘the Act’), the Secretary of State has the powers to intervene in certain media mergers on public interest grounds.
Having reviewed the relevant evidence available, I can confirm that I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am minded not to issue an EIN [European Intervention Notice] on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention.
This is a quasi-judicial decision and I am required to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible. I will now allow until 5pm on Thursday 24 May for interested parties to submit written representations, and I aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger shortly.”
In a Statement, Sky said: “Sky plc notes today’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that he is not minded to intervene on public interest grounds in relation to Comcast’s offer for Sky. The Secretary of State has not reached a final decision. Before reaching a final decision, the Secretary of State will consider further representations, which are to be provided by Thursday 24 May 2018.”
Hancock has written a detailed letter to Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L Roberts explaining his responsibilities in regards to the bid(s) and the reasoning for his decision, copying the letter to Andrew Hall at NBCUniversal and Jeremy Darroch at Sky.