Belfast Telegraph

Ofcom hands findings on Murdoch's Sky takeover bid to Culture Secretary

Rupert Murdoch will find out next week if his bid to take full control of Sky could face a full-blown competition probe after Ofcom submitted its public interest report to the Government on Tuesday.

The broadcast regulator and Competition and Markets Authority have handed over their assessments of the deal, which would see Mr Murdoch's 21st Century Fox acquire the 61% of Sky it does not already own in an £11.7 billion deal.

The reports, delivered to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, contain Ofcom's findings on whether the deal is in the public interest and if Fox's directors meet a "fit and proper" test.

Ms Bradley must now decide whether or not to refer the deal for a fuller "phase 2 investigation" by the CMA.

The Culture Secretary said she will aim to make a statement in Parliament detailing her "minded to" decision by Thursday June 29.

There will then be an opportunity for representations to be made before a final decision is taken.

Mr Murdoch's bid comes five years after his last tilt at taking the business over through News Corporation in 2011.

The attempt faced opposition from media industry rivals and politicians before it was scuppered by acute pressure on the company brought about by phone-hacking claims involving News International.

The Ofcom and CMA reports will also be published next week.

The takeover attempt has been condemned by campaigners, and senior politicians - including Ed Miliband and former business secretary Vince Cable - have met Ofcom in a bid to block the deal.

Lawyers representing several women who have accused staff at Fox News - part of 21st Century Fox - of sexual harassment also recently met Ofcom to warn against the planned deal.

Mr Miliband and Mr Cable's group of MPs warned that there was "clear evidence of the Murdochs' pattern of secrecy and lack of transparency about corporate failure being repeated at Fox News, the subject of ongoing Federal investigations".

Mr Murdoch himself has said he is "not worried" about Fox News despite allegations of sexual harassment at the broadcaster.

The billionaire head said there was "nothing happening" at the station.

The European Commission has already rubber-stamped the deal.

Ms Bradley said: "The decision before me now, which I am required to take acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, is whether - taking account of the specified public interest grounds - it is, or may be the case, that the merger operates, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest and therefore whether or not to refer for a fuller phase 2 investigation by the CMA."