Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Sky bid face six-month review

Getty Images Getty Images
Nicole Thomas | 13 September, 2017, 00:19

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has told Parliament she is minded to refer 21st Century Fox's proposed takeover of Sky to the competition regulator on grounds of both broadcasting standards and media plurality.

She said: "The fact that Fox belatedly established such procedures does not ease my concerns, nor does Fox's compliance history". "These are matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral".

The CMA will take six months to investigate the merger before publishing its conclusions.

On Tuesday she unexpectedly went even further and said she meant to refer the takeover for further investigation on the grounds that broadcasting standards at Sky could be undermined if the deal went ahead.

She also raised concerns about "corporate governance issues".

It sets up a potentially awkward encounter between Ms Bradley and James Murdoch, who is chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky, at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge on Thursday, where they are both scheduled to speak. "How can we possibly trust the Murdochs with total control of Sky News?"

Iranian worshipers rally in protest at crackdown on Rohingya
The campaigners said unfortunately they can not take them to court as per the advice of an global human rights lawyer. According to the United Nations, 270,000 Rohingya people have entered Bangladesh after fleeing Burma since August 25.

Anti-Murdoch campaigners had lobbied hard to stop the deal, with Labour MPs including Ed Miliband saying the Murdochs are not "fit and proper" owners of the broadcast group.

Bradley asked Ofcom to provide further comment on Fox's broadcasting record, the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News US, alleged lax corporate governance at 21st Century Fox, and claims by critics of the Sky takeover bid that Ofcom had not taken into account all relevant evidence relating to phone hacking.

Bradley's decision remains "minded to" because she must allow the parties to make representations on the proposed decision.

In a statement, Sky said that it was disappointed by the delay and that the Secretary was minded to refer the takeover to the CMA on the grounds of broadcasting standards despite Ofcom maintaining its advice that there are no sufficient concerns to warrant such a referral. It then clarified that "while we consider there are non-fanciful concerns, we do not consider that these are such as may justify a reference in relation to the broadcast standards public interest consideration". However, I am not confident that weaknesses in Fox's corporate governance arrangements are incapable of affecting compliance in the broadcasting standards context.

European regulators have previously given the takeover the green light.

But Bradley, who has remained United Kingdom culture secretary in May's new government, has been seen as being under pressure to not wave the deal through given that the topic of the Murdochs and their political power has been a hotly discussed topic in Britain.

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