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Britain eyes wider probe on Sky takeover

September 13, 2017

LONDON: Britain on Tuesday said it may widen its probe into the planned takeover of pan-European satellite TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment group.

While the blockbuster deal has already raised concerns about the influence of the Australian-born US tycoon over Britain’s media landscape, industry observers are also worried that the controversial reporting style of Murdoch’s Fox News channel could be adopted by Britain’s Sky News.

On Tuesday, Karen Bradley, the Conservative government’s minister for culture, media and sport, said she intended to refer the bid to British regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, due to media plurality concerns.

But CMA could also investigate the deal on grounds of “genuine commitment to broadcasting standards”, the minister said.

It was “important”, Bradley explained, that “entities which adopt controversial or partisan approaches to news and current affairs in other jurisdictions should, at the same time, have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards here” in the UK.

“These are matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral,” Bradley said.

Last year, 21st Century Fox bid 11.4 billion ($15.1 billion, 12.7 billion euros) for the 61-per cent of Sky it does not already own.

The takeover has already been approved by regulators in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy as well as the European Union, but not yet in Britain.

Britain media watchdog Ofcom has warned of the “increased influence” the deal would give Murdoch over Britain’s media landscape. Bradley’s decision won praise from the main opposition Labour party.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017