THE UK’s newly established Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) yesterday said it would likely greenlight a deal by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to consolidate its pay-TV European holdings were it to be approved by the EC. In 2010, European authorities approved News Corp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB.
Murdoch is said to be considering the deal in a move that could see BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia combined. Such a tie-up would make sense in that it would give the combined assets more firepower when trying to bid for sports rights across Europe.
However the deal to turn BSkyB into a European satellite-TV giant would face significant scrutiny from a number of regulators, including Ofcom.
Ofcom is expected to put such a deal through the most stringent scrutiny by conducting a media plurality test designed to ensure there are a number of different voices and owners in the media industry. Any discussions between the companies are understood to only be in the very earliest stages.
Fox currently holds a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, a 55 per cent stake in Sky Deutschland and all of Sky Italia.
In a call with investors on Wednesday, Fox operations chief James Murdoch acknowledged that Fox was mulling a deal. “We’ve made no secret of our belief over the years that we think the Sky’s are strong together. But that said, currently our focus is on operating each of those business as best we can. Each of the marketplaces that we operate in are competitive and very dynamic.”