CMA to assess Murdochs' potential influence on Sky takeover bid
The Competition and Markets Authority has announced it will assess Rupert Murdoch's ability to control or influence editorial decisions at Sky News as one of the key points of its investigation into 21st Century Fox's £11.7bn Sky takeover bid.
After the Department for Culture, Media and Sport referred the deal to the CMA last month, on Tuesday the competition watchdog outlined the scope of its inquiry.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley referred the deal on UK media plurality and broadcasting standards and the CMA has invited submissions from business and the public for the six month investigation.
Media and telecoms regulator Ofcom originally raised concerns over media plurality but found no substantial reason to block the takeover bid on the grounds of broadcasting standards.
In addition, the CMA said that among other areas it will dig deeper into whether the Murdoch family's ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change and how.
Adding that it would assess the family's ability to “influence the political agenda” and how this could be impacted after a takeover, alongside more general scrutiny of the effect and array of British media.
The CMA also pledged to scrutinised broadcasting standards, while assessing the "genuine commitment" of the group to the standards and giving consideration to their track record.
Even though in August the Murdochs took US-produced Fox News off the air in the UK, 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. These are matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral."
Bradley's referral on the grounds of "media plurality" related to Murdoch Snr and his sons running both companies as well as the group that publishes The Times and The Sun newspapers.
The watchdog will also make an assessment of corporate governance and the treatment of employees in the UK and overseas.
Anne Lambert, chair of the CMA panel conducting the probe, said: “The CMA will use its extensive experience of investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox.
“Once the investigation is complete, we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision.”