Rupert Murdoch bid for Sky set to be probed by competition watchdog
An attempt by media mogul Rupert Murdoch to enlarge his broadcasting empire in the UK is set to be referred to the official competition watchdog, it was announced today.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she was “minded” to refer Fox's takeover bid for Sky to the Competition and Markets Authority over “broadcasting standards”.
She has previously indicated a preference to refer the bid to the watchdog over media plurality concerns.
The CMA forecasts a six-month investigation into the proposed £11.7bn deal, which would see the Australian tycoon buy up 61% of shares it does not already own in the broadcaster.
If successful, the purchase would hand Mr Murdoch control of Sky News and pay-TV channels in the UK. He already owns The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and radio group TalkSport.
Media regulator Ofcom had warned that the deal could risk "increased influence by members of the Murdoch Family Trust over the UK news agenda and the political process".
Ms Bradley told the Commons today: “I have taken careful account of all relevant representations and Ofcom’s advice and have, today - as required by the legislation - written to the parties to inform them I am now minded-to-refer the merger to the CMA on the grounds of genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.”
The buyer and seller have 10 days to respond and try to change her mind.
Shadow Culture Secretary and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson replied: "I think it’s the first time a minister in the current government has ever stood in the way of what the Murdochs want, and frankly not before time. So well done."
Elsewhere, Ms Bradley appealed to Mr Watson to condemn activists who had pursued her and her family in the hope of influencing her decision.
He apologised and – vowing to deal with any Labour members who may have been involved – lamented that women MPs bear the brunt of aggressive campaigning tactics.
He said: "You can be a misogynist or a member of the Labour party; you can’t be both."
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