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Sky takeover probe to focus on media plurality, broadcasting standards

12 October 2017

The U.K. Competition Authority said Tuesday that it plans to examine how the proposed takeover of Sky PLC (SKY.LN) by 21st Century Fox Inc.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox past year announced plans to buy the 61% of Sky that it doesn't already own for 11.7 billion pounds ($15.4 billion).

The CMA notably says it welcomes views and evidence on the current approach of Fox, Sky, the Murdoch Family Trust and News Corp to compliance with broadcasting standards; and the approach of the parties to effective corporate governance and other applicable regulations, including regulations relating to the treatment of employees, in the United Kingdom and overseas.

The CMA will also consider these issues in the context of Ofcom's definition of media plurality: ensuring diversity of viewpoints that are available and consumed; and preventing any one media owner or voice having too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.

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With respect to media plurality, the CMA is assessing whether there will be a sufficient plurality of people with control of Fox's media enterprises serving United Kingdom audiences after the transaction.

A trio of advisory firms have called on shareholders to rebel against Mr Murdoch, who is chief executive of 21st Century Fox and sits on its board.

The CMA said it would explore the extent to which the Murdoch family would be able to "control or influence editorial and commercial decisions" at Sky News if the takeover went through.

We now invite submissions on these specific matters so we can thoroughly examine the relevant evidence.

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Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, referred Fox's proposed takeover of Sky to the CMA last month for a full inquiry, after a three-month investigation by Ofcom.

Fox and Sky's broadcasting standards will be scrutinised, with the CMA saying it will look at whether the merged group would have a "genuine commitment" to the standards, while giving consideration to their track record.

The deal was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority for further investigation by the U.K Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on September 20 on public-interest grounds.

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Sky takeover probe to focus on media plurality, broadcasting standards