United Kingdom to Scrutinise Fox-Sky Bid

21st Century Fox takeover of Sky referred to competition watchdog

Fox's Sky Deal: UK Plans In-Depth Review on Competition and Broadcasting Standards Grounds

On Tuesday she unexpectedly went even further and said she meant to refer the takeover for further investigation on the grounds that broadcasting standards at Sky could be undermined if the deal went ahead.

She did say that further review of the company's governance was warranted, as well as the procedures the company had in place for ensuring its broadcast of Fox News in the United Kingdom complied with broadcasting standards.

"The fact that Fox belatedly established such [compliance] procedures does not ease my concerns, nor does Fox's compliance history", Bradley said.

21st Century Fox said in an emailed statement that it was "disappointed that the Secretary of State has chosen not to follow the unequivocal advice of the independent regulator, which is the expert body tasked with enforcing the Broadcast Code. we do not believe that there are grounds for the Secretary of State to change her previous position". "Additionally, she said was now minded to refer the proposed takeover to the CMA on the grounds of genuine commitment to broadcasting standards".

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The British government's intention to seek a full review of 21st Century Fox's bid for Sky is unlikely to derail the takeover, analysts say, even though opponents of the deal hailed the decision as a "golden opportunity" to sink the $15-billion agreement. In the first report which said that there were no broadcasting concerns that would have prompted a reference they have since admitted that there are non-fanciful concerns and on that basis she had to refer the bid and she has done so. However, Ofcom said, the issues - including Fox News publishing a discredited story that the murdered Democrat aide Seth Rich was the source of hacked party emails - "did not occur in a broadcasting standards context".

The Boston asset manager is among the 10 largest shareholders of both Twenty-Five Century Fox and News Corp., according to the Boston Business Journal, which cited regulatory filings. I consider that these non-fanciful concerns do warrant further consideration. "I consider that these non-fanciful concerns do warrant further consideration", Bradley said.

She added that she considered it important that entities which adopt controversial or partisan approaches to news and current affairs in other jurisdictions should, at the same time, have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards here.

Fox owns 39% of Sky but wants to assume total control of the broadcaster. "These are matters the CMA may wish to consider".

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Fox also said the deal, announced in December 2016, was now likely to be completed by June 30, 2018, "subject to any further delays in the decision-making process".

She said one area raised by critics of the deal was "what they termed the "Foxification" of Fox-owned news outlets internationally".

The biggest risk for Fox, however, is that the investigation pushes out a decision far into next year.

- Sky shares were trading at around 9.36 pounds at 1500 BST, nearly 13 percent below the offer price.

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Other opponents of the deal lined up to laud Bradley's announcement. In July 2010-2011, Murdoch attempted to buy BSkyB for £8bn but failed following public outcry around his news organisations' phone hacking scandal.

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