Today Culture Secretary Karen Bradley again extended the time available before making a decision on the bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. In a statement today Ms Bradley advised that she would aim to make and initial “minded to” decision by the 29th June.
There will then be opportunity for representations to be made before the Secretary makes her final decision.
There are a number of objections to this proposed takeover not least because the owner of 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch also owns the Times and the Sun newspapers. Many feel obtaining Sky would give him too much of an influence over the UK media.
The full statement from Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is below.
In a statement issued today, the Culture Secretary said:
Today I can confirm that following my intervention in the proposed acquisition of Sky plc by 21st Century Fox Inc., I have received reports from Ofcom on two public interest grounds, and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on jurisdiction, as set out in the European Intervention Notice (EIN) issued on 16th March 2017.
In addition, Ofcom has provided me with a copy of its separate fit and proper assessment which it carried out in accordance with its duty under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996, and which it confirmed on the 16th March would be considered within the same timeframe as the public interest assessment.
The EIN issued on 16th March required Ofcom to assess and report to me on two public interest grounds: 1) the need for there to be a plurality of persons controlling media enterprises; and 2) for those carrying on or in control of such enterprises to have a genuine commitment to the attainment of broadcasting standards objectives. It also required the CMA to report to me on jurisdiction.
The reports were originally due on the 16th May and, on the 21st April, I extended this deadline to 20th June in light of the announcement of the General Election.
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. I will consider these reports in detail before coming to an initial view on whether or not I am minded to refer the merger.
I will aim to make my initial ‘minded to’ decision, publish the CMA and Ofcom public interest reports – in line with the requirements under the Enterprise Act 2002 – and return to Parliament to make an oral statement by Thursday 29th June. There will then be an opportunity for representations to be made before I take a final decision.
In the meantime, given the ongoing quasi-judicial nature of this process, I am unable to comment substantively on the matter of this case. My priority remains – as it has throughout this proposed merger – to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible.