Competition watchdog blocks Rupert Murdoch's Sky takeover bid
The competition watchdog has provisionally blocked Rupert Murdoch's attempt to buy the remaining 61% of Sky, ruling that the deal is not in the public interest.
The Competition and Markets Authority said the takeover would have given the Murdochs "too much control over news providers in the UK" and "too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".
The deal was referred to the CMA by then Culture Secretary Karen Bradley after an initial investigation by broadcast regulator Ofcom raised concerns about media plurality.
The decision was hailed by Labour deputy leader and press campaigner Tom Watson, who said it was "right for the UK".
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband also welcomed the news on Twitter.
Despite ruling against the bid on grounds of media plurality, the CMA said it was satisfied that Fox and Sky News were committed to upholding proper broadcasting standards.
Anne Lambert, the chair of the CMA’s independent investigation group, said: “Media plurality goes to the heart of our democratic process. It is very important that no group or individual should have too much control of our news media or too much power to affect the political agenda.
“Our in-depth investigation also considered whether the deal would be against the public interest regarding broadcasting standards. Due to their existing track record in the UK, and the range of policies and procedures the companies involved have in place to ensure broadcasting standards are met, we did not find public interest concerns in this regard.”
SKY'S THE LIMIT?
A Fox spokesperson said the company was "disappointed" with the ruling on media plurality, but said the company would "continue to engage with the CMA ahead of the publication of the final report in May”.
The impending sale of most of Fox's entertainment portfolio to Disney could also influence the final decision, a deal which the CMA said would "significantly weaken" the link between Sky and the Murdochs.
Another possible option to address plurality issues could be to separate Sky News from the rest of the company's operations.
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