Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has asked regulators to examine Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox’s takeover bid for Sky. In a statement to parliament, she told MPs that media regulator Ofcom and competition regulator, the CMA, would be asked to investigate the deal.
21st Century Fox is offering £11.7bn for the 61% stake in Sky it does not already own. The company said it was “confident” the takeover would be approved.
Ms Bradley had previously said that she was “minded” to call for an investigation. Since then she said she had listened to the cases from interested parties, but that they had not sufficiently dismissed her concerns surrounding media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards.
“While the representations from 21st Century Fox highlighted areas where it contested the position taken in my minded-to letter, none of the representations have led me to dismiss the concerns I have regarding the two public interest grounds I previously specified,” she said.
“I am of the view that it remains both important, given the issues raised, and wholly appropriate for me to seek comprehensive advice from Ofcom on these public interest considerations and from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on jurisdiction issues.”
Part of Ofcom’s investigation will include whether Sky’s potential new owners are “fit and proper”. Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch are both joint chairmen of 21st Century Fox and News Corp while James Murdoch is chief executive of Fox.
The CMA will provide advice on whether European regulators need to examine the deal. The two bodies have until 16 May to prepare their reports.
21st Century Fox said it looked forward to working with the UK authorities on its review and that it was “confident” the deal would be approved.
“The media market has changed dramatically in recent years, as has our business. We believe our proposed £11.7bn investment will benefit the UK’s creative industries,” it said.