The bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to buy Sky will be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has confirmed.
She told the Commons that she would refer the merger to the CMA to investigate its impact on media plurality in teh UK and on whether Fox meets the UK’s broadcasting standards.
“I can confirm my final decision is to refer the merger to the CMA for a Phase 2 investigation on media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards grounds. I will issue and publish my formal referral decision in the coming days. I will also publish the substantive representations I have received during this process shortly.”
The CMA will provide its response within 24 weeks of the official referral.
Fox already owns a 39% stake in Sky, but wants full control of the European broadcaster and ISP.
Many people are concerned that Murdoch already holds too much influence in the British media landscape, with The Sun and The Times both under the control of Murdoch’s News UK.
Others have raised doubts as to whether any Murdoch-owned firm would fulfil Ofcom’s “fit and proper person” test for owning a UK broadcaster after a series of scandals.
In 2011, Murdoch’s News International abandoned its attempt to acquire Sky in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, which saw a number of News Corps editors and journalists charged with related offences.
In the US, Fox has been hit by a series of sexual harassment allegations at its flagship Fox News channel, which raises a number of questions about the firm’s attitude to corporate governance and accountability.