Fox bid for Sky referred to Competition & Markets Authority by culture secretary

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United Kingdom culture secretary Karen Bradley said Tuesday that the United Kingdom government will stick to a recent initial decision that 21st Century Fox's proposed deal to take full control of European pay TV giant Sky needs to get a more in-depth review by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), but also added a planned review of the deal's effects on broadcasting standards.

In July, Bradley said she was still minded to refer the bid to the CMA on media plurality concerns, but not on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards.

The billionaire had hoped to spent £11.7bn to take full control of Sky through his 21st Century Fox company, which is controlled by Murdoch and his sons.

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

On corporate governance failures, Ofcom felt concerns were "non-fanciful" in respect of the broadcasting standards ground but felt these concerns do not warrant a reference but Bradley felt it would be appropriate for these concerns to be considered further by the CMA.

State Street Corp., the custodial bank that runs the S&P 500 ETF Trust, voted against re-electing media mogul Rupert Murdoch and two of his sons to board positions at News Corp. and Twenty-First Century Fox in the most recent election. She said some representations contended that Ofcom did not adequately take into account Fox's approach to broadcasting in global jurisdictions - for example, the USA and Australia - citing examples of "alleged biased, divisive and grossly inaccurate reporting". "On the evidence before me, I am not able to conclude that this raises non-fanciful concerns".

She has consistently said she would be "minded" to refer the deal to a CMA investigation but wanted to ensure any decision was "fair and impartial".

Fox, the world's fourth-largest media company after Comcast, Disney and Time Warner, already owns a 39.1% stake in Sky. These, she said, were matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral. In late August, Fox News went dark in the United Kingdom, citing a lack of commercial interest given low viewership.

On 29 August in what was seen my many observers as a tactic to ease the bid, Fox News was pulled from Sky's United Kingdom grid.

However, in its latest update, Ofcom clarified it did have "non-fanciful concerns" on broadcasting standards.

The shares partially recovered to trade down around 1.9pc at 934p.

The past few months have also seen pressure for a referral on the broadcasting standards issue, partly from campaign group Avaaz and also a group of high-profile MPs.

"We urge the secretary of state to take a final decision quickly", Fox said, adding that 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".

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