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Bradley unleashes watchdogs to sniff Fox's pursuit of Sky

By Oliver Haill

Date: Thursday 16 Mar 2017

Bradley unleashes watchdogs to sniff Fox's pursuit of Sky

(ShareCast News) - UK culture minister Karen Bradley has asked media regulator Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate 21st Century Fox's proposed £11.7bn takeover of Sky.
Bradley told parliament the pair of watchdogs would examine whether Rupert Murdoch's Fox buying the 61% of the UK broadcaster it does not already own will affect UK media plurality.

With Ofcom also assessing Fox on the basis of broadcasting standards, the duo have until 16 May to prepare their reports.

"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," Bradley told MPs.

Bradley's government's culture and media department can intervene in takeover deals on the basis of public interest considerations, with legislation specifying the "need for there to be a sufficient plurality of media ownership, for the availability of a wide range of high-quality broadcasting and for those with control of media enterprises to have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives".

Sky, whose board agreed to the deal in December, shares fell into the red as Bradley spoke, but by 1225 GMT were up 0.3% to 988.5p.

A cross-party group of politicians, including Ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, former business secretary Vince Cable and Tory peer Lady Warsi recently sent a letter to Ofcom chief Sharon White, calling on her to investigate whether Murdoch's son James meets the test to hold a UK broadcasting licence.

A previous Ofcom investigation into News International following the phone hacking scandal found that while Murdoch Junior "repeatedly fell short of the conduct expected of him as chief executive and chairman" there was "insufficient evidence to conclude he deliberately engaged in wrongdoing".

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