21st Century Fox takeover of Sky: Culture minister to outline next steps after regulators report findings

Oliver Gill
Follow Oliver
Theresa May Re-shuffles Her Cabinet After The General Election
Karen Bradley retained her position as the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport following the General Election (Source: Getty)

Culture minister Karen Bradley will reveal whether 21st Century Fox's proposed takeover of Sky will either be rejected or passed on for further scrutiny by regulators by 29 June.

In a short statement this afternoon, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport said she had received reports from Ofcom both the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Ofcom, the UK's broadcasting regulator, reported to Bradley on two public interest grounds as well as the results of a "fit and proper assessment".

Read more: Ofcom due to report back on 21st Century Fox takeover of Sky this week

The CMA report establishes which jurisdiction should have the ultimate say on the deal under European legislation.

Bradley will consider the findings by both regulators and reveal her "minded to" decision in parliament before next Thursday.

Based on the evidence provided to her today, the culture secretary will first consider whether "the merger operates, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest". She will subsequently make a decision on whether the CMA needs to undertake a "phase 2", or in-depth, investigation.

Further representations will be made to Bradley after she reveals here "minded to" decision and before she comes to a final conclusion on the deal.

Read more: Sky's shares take a tumble as election result raises Fox takeover concerns

What were Ofcom reporting on?

Public interest, on two grounds:

1) The need for there to be a plurality of persons controlling media enterprises; and

2) For those carrying on or in control of such enterprises to have a genuine commitment to the attainment of broadcasting standards objectives.

Fox agreed an £11.7bn deal to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own in December last year. A previous Sky takeover, by Mudoch’s News Corporation, fell through in 2011. A decision on the deal was delayed following after Prime Minister Theresa May called a General Election.

Former Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable told City A.M. he believed that the General Election result may “embolden” Ofcom in its findings.

Earlier this year, European authorities passed on the deal to the UK government to scrutinise. Ofcom was instructed to determine two key public interest tests. The CMA was asked to report on whether the Britain was the correct jurisdiction to report on the deal.

Today, Bradley concluded:

In the meantime, given the ongoing quasi-judicial nature of this process, I am unable to comment substantively on the matter of this case. My priority remains - as it has throughout this proposed merger - to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible.

Related articles