Framework of probe into Sky buyout bid outlined by watchdog

Rupert Murdoch is executive chairman of 21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch is executive chairman of 21st Century Fox

In response White said that while the regulator has from some "extremely disturbing" behaviour at Fox News, for which 21st Century Fox is the parent company, it did not believe that Sky was deserving of losing its broadcasting licence following the proposed takeover.

Among the areas the CMA will look at are how and if the Murdoch family's ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change following the bid by Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to buy the remaining 61% of Sky it does not already own.

The CMA notably says it welcomes views and evidence on the current approach of Fox, Sky, the Murdoch Family Trust and News Corp to compliance with broadcasting standards; and the approach of the parties to effective corporate governance and other applicable regulations, including regulations relating to the treatment of employees, in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley chose to disregard Ofcom's judgement that the deal should only be referred to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns about its impact on media plurality, additionally opting to refer the bid on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards.

It said it would investigate media plurality and whether there would be sufficient plurality of persons following the transaction.

The CMA is required to report to the Secretary of State with its recommendations within six months of opening the investigation. Concerns had been raised that the takeover would give Murdoch too much sway over the United Kingdom media.

With regards to broadcasting standards, it is seeking views on whether the merged company will have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives.

Even though in August the Murdochs took US-produced Fox News off the air in the United Kingdom, as part of her referral statement, Bradley noted Fox's news style, saying: "I consider it important 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".

Corporate governance and the treatment of employees in the United Kingdom and overseas will come under the scope of that line of inquiry.

Anne Lambert, who is chairing the probe, said the CMA would "thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover?".

On Tuesday the regulator set out the scope of the investigation, with a final report due early next year.

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