Government to refer Rupert Murdoch’s Sky takeover bid to competitions watchdog

Posted On: 
14th September 2017

Rupert Murdoch's bid to takeover Sky suffered a major setback today after the Government announced it would be referred to the official competition watchdog.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is bidding to take full control of Sky
PA Images

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley confirmed this morning the media tycoon's move to buy the broadcaster will be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in "the coming days".

The move follows her announcement to MPs on Tuesday that she was “minded” to refer the merger over “broadcasting standards” and “media plurality grounds”.

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The CMA forecasts a six-month investigation into the proposed £11.7bn deal, after which Ms Bradley will make a final decision on whether or not the takeover can proceed.

Mr Murdoch's company 20th Century Fox wants to buy up the 61% of shares it does not already own in the broadcaster, giving the Australian tycoon complete control of Sky News and pay-TV channels in the UK.

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".

Addressing the Commons today, Ms Bradley said: “Yesterday I received letters on behalf of both parties to the merger confirming that while they disagree with my minded-to decision, they would not be making substantive representations in relation to it.

"As a result, I can confirm my final decision is to refer the merger to the CMA for a Phase 2 investigation on media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards grounds. I will issue and publish my formal referral decision in the coming days. I will also publish the substantive representations I have received during this process shortly.”

Prior to the government's confirmation of a probe, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson praised his opposite number for standing up to Mr Murdoch

"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," he said.