Belfast Telegraph

Framework of probe into Sky buyout bid outlined by watchdog

By Holly Williams

The competition watchdog has set out the scope of its wide-ranging investigation into Rupert Murdoch's £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) outlined the main issues for its probe into how the deal would impact media plurality and broadcasting standards in the UK, and is inviting submissions for its six-month investigation.

Among the areas the CMA will look at are how and if the Murdoch family's ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change following the bid by Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to buy the remaining 61% of Sky it does not already own.

It will also look at the Murdoch family's ability to "influence the political agenda" and how that could change after the deal, alongside more general scrutiny of how it could affect the number and variety of media in the UK, including the "range of views".

Fox and Sky's broadcasting standards will also come under the microscope, with the CMA confirming it will look at whether the merged group would have a "genuine commitment" to this - including consideration of their track record.

Corporate governance and the treatment of employees in the UK and overseas will come under the scope of that line of inquiry.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, referred Fox's proposed takeover of Sky to the CMA for a full inquiry earlier this year after a three-month investigation by Ofcom.

While it raised concerns over media plurality, Ofcom found there was no reason to block the takeover bid on the grounds of broadcasting standards. But the CMA's latest update on its investigation confirmed it would focus on both media plurality and broadcasting standards.

Anne Lambert, panel chair at the CMA, said it would use its experience to "thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox".

Belfast Telegraph