Rupert Murdoch's Sky bid could face wider competition regulator probe

Britain said it may widen its probe into the planned takeover of pan-EUropean satellite TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch's Sky bid could face wider competition regulator probe

United Kingdom culture secretary Karen Bradley said Tuesday that the United Kingdom government will stick to a recent initial decision that 21st Century Fox's proposed deal to take full control of European pay TV giant Sky needs to get a more in-depth review by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), but also added a planned review of the deal's effects on broadcasting standards. It tabled a proposal just before Christmas to buy the remainder of the company for £11.7bn, valuing the whole of Sky at £18.5bn.

Rupert Murdoch's £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky faces a potential wider investigation by the competition regulator, the Culture Secretary has said.

Shares in Sky closed down 1.6% at 937.00 pence Tuesday.

Bradley said earlier she has been assessing thousands of responses following a consultation into the controversial bid by Rupert Murdoch to takeover the United Kingdom pay-television broadcaster.

"Nevertheless we will continue to engage with the process as the Secretary of State reaches her final decision". They have since rallied but now stand at a discount of more than 12% to the offer price - suggesting growing scepticism among a number of investors that the takeover will go ahead.

Following receipt of any representations from the parties I will aim to come to my final decision in relation to both grounds as promptly as I can. Ms Bradley, who has frequently stressed that this is a quasi-judicial process, is not obliged to adhere to the CMA's recommendation.

But CMA could also investigate the deal on grounds of "genuine commitment to broadcasting standards", the minister said.

"I agree with the view that, in this context, my proper concern is whether Fox will have a genuine commitment to attaining broadcasting standards objectives", she said.

But a referral on the grounds of broadcasting standards follows Bradley's request for Ofcom to reconsider its original findings earlier this year.

In June, analysts told Deadline that the media plurality issue could be resolved if Fox made certain remedies or undertakings in lieu.

However, following the decision, Ms Bradley was lobbied by a number of opponents of the deal, led by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and former business secretary Sir Vince Cable, to assess new evidence concerning Fox's USA operations.

Turning to the debate about possible corporate governance failures, Bradley said that Ofcom stated in its latest correspondence "that these raise non-fanciful concerns in respect of the broadcasting standards ground".

Bradley wrote on 7 August: "A number of representations contend that Ofcom has not considered all the evidence".

The media regulator gave Bradley the window she was looking for, saying that it "recognises that the legal threshold for referral is low [and] you may refer as secretary of state if there are any non-fanciful concerns".

"Whilst we were concerned by Fox News' lack of adequate procedures for broadcast compliance, we consider we did afford it sufficient weight in considering the question of whether there is a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards by Fox in this country", Ofcom said.

The takeover has already been approved by regulators in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy as well as the European Union, but not yet in Britain.

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