Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority are to examine 21st Century Fox’s proposed £11.7 billion takeover of Sky, the Government has announced.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs she has issued a European intervention notice on the grounds of “media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards” linked to the bid from Rupert Murdoch’s company.
Bradley confirmed the decision in a statement to MPs in the Commons.
She told MPs she had considered representations from the broadcasters but was not satisfied her concerns had been addressed.
She said: “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.
“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.”
The deal envisages Fox paying £10.75 per share for the 61% of Sky it does not already own – valuing the Game Of Thrones broadcaster at £18.5 billion.
It comes five years after the media tycoon’s last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation.
That bid was derailed after the company – which owns The Sun and The Times – was forced to abandon the bid when it became embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal involving News International.
A 21st Century Fox spokesperson said the company “looks forward to working with UK authorities in their reviews of our proposed transaction to combine with Sky”.
They said: “We are confident that a thorough review of our track record over 30 years will underscore our commitment to upholding high broadcast standards, and will demonstrate that the transaction will not result in there being insufficient plurality in the UK.
“The media market has changed dramatically in recent years, as has our business. We believe our proposed £11.7 billion investment will benefit the UK’s creative industries.
“We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders and are confident that the transaction will be approved.”
Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth