UK to decide on Murdoch‘s Sky bid

The British government will give its verdict on Rupert Murdoch‘s 18-month pursuit of Sky by June 13, potentially paving the way for his Fox business to take on Comcast in the battle for the British TV group.

Twenty-First Century Fox agreed a deal to buy the 61pc of Sky it did not already own in December 2016, but the takeover has been repeatedly held up by politicians and regulators who fear it will give Mr Murdoch too much influence in Britain.

Fox has offered commitments designed to protect the editorial independence of Sky‘s News division, but both sides were stunned in February when US media group Comcast made a rival offer.

“My decision will be on whether the merger operates or may be expected to operate against the public interest, taking into account the specified public interest considerations of media plurality and genuine commitment to broadcasting standards,” Secretary of State for Media Matt Hancock, said in a written ministerial statement.

Fox‘s bid for Sky has been complicated by its more recent agreement to sell many of its TV and film assets to Walt Disney, including its stake in Sky, for $52bn.

Fox said it had offered a range of undertakings that would fund and protect the editorial independence of Sky News.

UK competition authorities had investigated whether the deal will give Murdoch, who owns the ‘Times‘ and ‘Sun‘ newspapers, too much influence in Britain‘s news media. It sent its assessment to Mr Hancock on Tuesday, giving him 30 working days to assess the deal. (Reuters)

Irish Independent