James Murdoch has said that approval of 21st Century Fox’s multi-billion pound bid to takeover Sky will be “an affirmation” of the claim that the UK is “open for business” post Brexit.
Murdoch, who is chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky, made his comments in a speech at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge today.
The CMA will examine concerns over “genuine commitment” to broadcasting standards at Fox and the merger’s impact on media plurality in the UK.
Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert, told the convention: “Inward investment in the UK creative economy, and the positive signal it sends to companies around the world, is more important than ever as the UK prepares to chart a course outside the EU.
“Indeed, the soft power of the UK’s creative identity is going to be a big part of that story.
“And so, if the UK truly is “open for business” post Brexit, we look forward to moving through the regulatory review process and this transformative transaction for the UK creative sector becoming an affirmation of that claim.
“We’re eager to provide Sky with access to the resources, reach, and creative sparks needed to keep pace against a new breed of competitors that now include some of the largest companies in the world, but none of whom have the local depth of investment and commitment to the UK and to Europe.”
Murdoch said Fox had “always looked to drive transformation, not simply adapt” as he appeared to embrace the digital disruption of the news industry from the likes of Facebook and Google.
He said: “New entrants, along with our longstanding storyteller competitors, will shape a future that will be defined by constant connectivity, nearly limitless choice and non-stop innovation.
“And many of these firms are competing and creating across multiple geographies, with vast resources to bring to bear in the pursuit of a consumer experience that earns attention and engagement from millions and billions of customers.
“This competitive environment is unprecedented and the demands it places on any storytelling business are profound. But to us, this environment of ubiquitous connectivity means more opportunities to share more of our stories and to deliver them in new and exciting ways.
“New delivery platforms mean room to innovate in how those stories are consumed. And ever-expanding plurality of choice gives us the chance to stand apart with brands that matter.
“And, as a company like ours that aspires for itself a role in charting the future, there has never been a better time than now when every aspect of the storytelling experience stands to be enhanced by technology.”
Murdoch resigned as chairman of Sky in 2012 after bowing to pressure to go following the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, also a Murdoch-owned title. He was reappointed to the role last year.
The Sky bid is an attempt by Rupert Murdoch to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky that he does not already own.
According to communications regulator Ofcom, if completed the deal would give Sky/News Corp the third-largest total reach of any UK news provider (behind the BBC and ITN).
Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall