UK says Fox bid for Sky gives Murdoch too much power
Media secretary Karen Bradley says an investigation will take place
Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox agreed to buy the 61% of Europe’s biggest broadcaster it does not already own
Britain intends to subject Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of European pay-TV group Sky to a lengthy in-depth investigation after finding the $14.8 billion deal risks giving the media mogul too much power over the news agenda.
Culture minister Karen Bradley said she was persuaded that Twenty-First Century Fox’s bid could give the Murdoch family too much influence over the media, after regulator Ofcom assessed the impact of the deal.
“The proposed entity would have the third largest total reach of any news provider – lower only than the BBC and ITN – and would, uniquely, span news coverage on television, radio, in newspapers and online,” Ms Bradley said.
Ms Bradley had asked regulators to examine whether Fox would have too much control of the media, and whether it would be committed to upholding broadcasting standards if it was allowed to buy the satellite company which broadcasts in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
Fox said it was disappointed by the government’s rejection of its plans to maintain editorial independence of Sky News, and said a full investigation could push the deal’s completion date back to next June.
Fox tried to pre-empt government concerns over the impact on Sky’s editorial independence by proposing the creation of an independent board to run Sky News, the company’s hugely influential 24 hour news channel.
But Bradley said she was minded to reject the proposal after Ofcom suggested that the undertakings were not strong enough.
Bradley said the parties involved had until July 14th to respond to her concerns before she finally decided whether to go ahead with the full investigation.
“Concerns about broadcasting standards would have been almost impossible to work around while we believe the groups will be able to offer concessions that adequately address concerns about plurality.” – Reuters