Fox’s £11.7bn takeover of Sky hits another setback

Natalie Bannerman
Published on:

Government minister Karen Bradley has passed decision over Fox's acquisition of Sky to the UK Competition and Markets Authority

21st Century Fox’s plan to acquire of UK TV and telecoms operator Sky has reached a new phase in development. 

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, after the three-month investigation by Ofcom, has said in a statement to MPs that she is likely to refer the deal to Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority.

"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," Bradley said.

She added: “Ofcom’s report is unambiguous. The transaction raises public interest concerns as a result of the increased influence by members of the Murdoch Family Trust over the UK news agenda and the political process, with its unique presence on radio, television, in print and online.” 

The deal comes amid fears that should the deal go ahead there will serious questions about the concentration of media power in Britain, despite the proposed deal passing the "fit and proper" evaluation with Ofcom.

The regulator said allegations of sexual and racial harassment at Fox News were extremely serious and disturbing but had found no clear evidence to suggest senior management at Fox were aware of the misconduct. 

Representatives from Fox expressed their dismay over the decision, saying in a statement: “While we welcome the secretary of state’s decision on broadcasting standards, we are disappointed that she does not accept Ofcom’s recommendation stated in its report that ‘the proposed undertakings offered by Fox to maintain the editorial independence of Sky News mitigate the media plurality concerns'.”