Belfast Telegraph

Fox slams 'political pressure' over 21st Century Fox Sky bid

By Holly Williams

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has said it is confident the Culture Secretary will make her decision on whether to refer its bid for Sky to the competition watchdog in the "coming days".

Fox said Karen Bradley should dismiss "flagrant political attempts to interfere" after a Government spokesman last week reportedly said she would not make a decision until after the parliamentary summer recess.

This would mean Fox would have to wait until at least next March to find out if its £11.7 billion swoop for Sky can go through, if Ms Bradley chooses to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

But in a letter from its lawyers Allen & Overy, Fox hit out at "political pressure" and took a swipe at former Labour leader Ed Miliband after he recently urged Ms Bradley "not to do a grubby deal with the Murdochs".

Ms Bradley said at the end of June she was "minded" to refer the deal to the CMA over concerns about diversity in the UK's media sector.

Mr Miliband has since joined forces with other higher profile senior MPs including Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate, in a letter to the Government claiming broadcast regulator Ofcom made "fundamental failures" in its investigation and calling for a full CMA inquiry into the deal.

But Fox said: "Bowing to the political pressure of the Miliband letter would constitute the most blatant form of political interference, and would critically undermine the integrity of the quasi-judicial nature of the Secretary of State's role in this process.

"21st Century Fox trusts that the Secretary of State will dismiss these flagrant political attempts to interfere in the regulatory process and its timing, which are in stark contrast to the respect for the independence of Ofcom that the authors of the letter had until recently promulgated. By doing so, 21st Century Fox is confident that the Secretary of State should be able to reach a final decision on a reference to the CMA in the coming days."

It said Ms Bradley must ensure the case is dealt with "expeditiously and fairly".

Belfast Telegraph

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