Competition watchdog: Fox's takeover of Sky would be 'against the public interest'

Marco Green
January 23, 2018

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised concerns about Sky's planned takeover by 21st Century Fox, saying the deal would give media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his family too much control over the UK news media.

Mr Murdoch's company, which is set to be acquired by Disney, already owns 39pc of Sky but tabled an £11.7bn bid to take full control in 2016.

The government, which will take the final decision on the deal, asked the Competition and Markets Authority to judge if Murdoch had too much influence in Britain and would uphold broadcasting standards.

The deal would have seen the Murdoch's take control of United Kingdom news assets including Sky News, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun newspapers as well as TalkSport.

The longtime opponents to the deal, including politicians like Labour's Ed Miliband and Tom Watson, were celebrating the CMA's decision to say "no to the Murdochs".

"The CMA has provisionally found that if the deal went ahead, as now proposed, it is likely to operate against the public interest".

The watchdog has extended the deadline for its final report to May 1 2018, in part due to the "exceptional volume" of submissions over the deal.

The CMA was investigating Fox's proposed takeover of the telecoms firm on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting and media plurality, after a referral from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in September.

"The media plurality concerns identified mean that, overall, the CMA provisionally concludes that the proposed transaction is not in the public interest".

In a statement, Twenty-First Century Fox said: "Today's provisional findings move our proposed Sky transaction forward to the next phase of the regulatory review process". The firm will continue to engage with the CMA ahead of the publication of the final report in May.

Fox is already a minority shareholder of Sky and the U.S. company announced plans for a full takeover in December 2016.

The CMA concedes that concerns regarding media plurality would "fall away" if the Disney transaction went ahead as proposed. It is very important that no group or individual should have too much control of our news media or too much power to affect the political agenda.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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