LONDON — The British culture secretary Karen Bradley has announced she harbours concerns about 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion takeover of Sky.
In an emailed statement on Friday, Bradley said she is “minded to intervene” in the deal for two reasons:
- Media plurality — The merger will concentrate more power into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and Bradley said there must be “sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises serving audiences in the UK.”
- Commitment to broadcasting standards — The culture secretary said 21st Century Fox could be subject to a fit and proper test, which will examine if the Murdoch’s have “a genuine commitment to attaining broadcasting standards objectives.”
Bradley made clear that she is yet to make a final decision, but if her concerns are not allayed she will refer the takeover to UK media regulator Ofcom. “This is not an announcement of my final decision in relation to intervention, but an indication of what I am presently minded to do,” she said.
The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport issued the statement after 21st Century Fox formally notified the European Commission of its plans to take control of Sky, the UK pay-TV giant which is home to shows including “Game of Thrones.”
Bradley now has 10 working days to make up her mind, giving her until March 17. 21st Century Fox and 21st Century will make final written representations to the government by March 8.
If, as she is “minded” to do, Bradley calls on Ofcom to investigate, the media regulator will have 40 days to carry out a public interest test on the deal. If there are no concerns, Bradley must give it the go ahead.
21st Century Fox already owns 39.1% of Sky and Murdoch has long coveted the remaining 61%. His previous £8 billion takeover attempt was derailed by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in 2011.
This story is developing.