British authorities have received yet more clarification from media regulator Ofcom on 21st Century Fox’s attempted takeover of Sky, with a decision on whether to refer the deal to competition authorities still pending. Despite having received the go-ahead in all other relevant territories where Sky operates, the deal has been bogged down by regulatory investigations and government indecision in the U.K.
Culture minister Karen Bradley said before Parliament’s summer break that she needed more time to decide whether to refer the $15 billion deal in whole, or part, to British competition authorities. She then asked Ofcom to look at unspecified new evidence pertaining to the deal, evidence thought to relate to the conduct of Fox News in the U.S. Fox has since yanked the channel from the Sky platform in the U.K., officially because of low viewing figures.
Bradley’s department confirmed it had received Ofcom’s latest report on Aug. 25, and said Monday it has now received yet further clarification it requested on that publication. Ofcom has come under fire from opponents of the Fox-Sky deal, including former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, over how it handled its probe into the proposed takeover, notably the parts concerning whether the Murdoch family are “fit and proper” owners of a combined business.
“Following the advice received from Ofcom on 25 August 2017, the Secretary of State [Bradley] sought clarification from Ofcom on some aspects of the advice,” the department of culture, media, sport and digital said in a statement.
“We have, today, received Ofcom’s response and the Secretary of State will now carefully consider the advice before making her decision on referral on the basis of all the evidence before her, as soon as is reasonably practicable.”
The DCMS will publish the details of the latest Ofcom report and the subsequent clarification requested when the decision on the Fox-Sky deal is made.