Murdoch bid for Sky faces plurality and standards probe

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The bid by 21st Century Fox to buy Sky wishes be referred to competition regulators in the «coming days», Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has reinforced.

The deal is facing a much fuller examination than initially look for.

It will be assessed «on media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards turfs,» Ms Bradley said.

The Competition and Markets Authority will provide its reply within 24 weeks of the referral.

James Murdoch, chief number one of 21st Century Fox, urged the government to approve the deal.

«Remove the noise and get to the facts,» he articulate, speaking to the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge.

Giving it the go in advance would send a signal that the UK is «open for business post-Brexit», he mentioned. James Murdoch is also chairman of Sky which is currently 39% owned by 21st Century Fox.

The way of life secretary had already indicated earlier this week that she was «minded» to ask the event regulator to look at the deal on two counts: the level of influence it would swap media companies controlled by the Murdoch family within the UK media prospect, and over 21st Century Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards.

James Murdoch said: «We owned 100% of [Sky] for varied many years, there were no issues. When I was chief head honcho — no issues. And when I was chairman — and I’m chairman again — no issues. So the record has to deem for something.»

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: «I am satisfied that Karen Bradley has shown courage in the face of pressure from the Murdochs.

«This referral is thoroughly justified on grounds both of plurality and broadcasting standards.

«It is now over to the Meet and Markets Authority to properly scrutinise this bid and stand up for a plural and unrestricted media.

‘Corporate failures’

Earlier this year, Ms Bradley said she had received validation casting doubt on Fox News’s «commitment to accuracy and fairness in broadcasting» and financing accusations of «false reporting» at the US channel.

A series of damaging allegations of sensuous harassment at the Fox News Channel have become another hurdle in the Murdoch-backed bid for choke-full ownership of Sky.

Last month, the media regulator, Ofcom, noted the «stated behaviours amounting to significant corporate failures» at Fox, but concluded that as they didn’t have recourse to place in a broadcasting standards context they «were not relevant to the resolve over the takeover bid».

However, Ms Bradley said broadcasting standards and corporate governance questions would be embraced in the CMA’s assessment of whether or not the deal should be approved, and if so, under what ups.

Several women have alleged they were harassed by latest Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who died in May this year. He was take away from his post following the allegations, but critics argue Fox had inadequate methodologies in place to deal with claims of this kind.

The expanded agenda for the CMA referral has escalated the prospect that the deal — the Murdochs’ second attempt to acquire the be idle of Sky — could fail.

An initial bid in 2010 was abandoned in the wake of the phone damage scandal.

New governance systems were then introduced at Murdoch-owned usual companies, and the broadcasting and film businesses were separated from Mr Murdoch’s newspaper affairs, which include the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times.

Late last year, 21st Century Fox set its new bid for Sky.

On Tuesday, Ms Bradley gave both broadcasters involved in the £11.7bn handle 10 days in which to submit further arguments. They declined the chance to make further representations.

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