×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

European Commission Clears Fox Acquisition of Sky

The European Commission has cleared 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of Sky, concluding that the move raised no anti-trust concerns.

The commission said the two companies were active “in different markets” in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. – the five European Union countries where pay-TV broadcaster Sky operates. “They compete with each other only to a limited extent, mainly in the acquisition of TV content and in the wholesale supply of basic pay-TV channels,” the commission said in a prepared statement Friday.

As a result, “the commission found that the proposed transaction would lead to only a limited increase in Sky’s existing share of the markets for the acquisition of TV content as well as in the market for the wholesale supply of TV channels” in the five countries.

Fox initiated its $14.3-billion takeover bid last December, reviving an effort to turn its 39% stake in Sky into full ownership of the company. A previous attempt foundered in 2011 amid Britain’s phone-hacking scandal, which prompted a political backlash against Fox owner Rupert Murdoch.

Approval of the new acquisition bid by European authorities had been expected. The transaction is also being scrutinized by British regulators, who are expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks.

21st Century Fox said it welcomed the commission’s decision.  “We now look forward to continuing to work with U.K. authorities and are confident that the proposed transaction will be approved following a thorough review process,” the company said.

The European Commission’s assessment focused on three key areas: whether Fox would be able to prevent or significantly limit access of Sky’s competitors to Fox’s other film and TV content; whether Sky would have incentive to stop buying content from Fox’s competitors; and whether Sky would be able to prevent competing channels from accessing its platform. The commission concluded that all such concerns were unfounded.

The British government’s culture secretary, Karen Bradley, had referred the takeover bid to the European Commission at the beginning of March after notifying both Fox and Sky that she was “minded to intervene” on two public-interest grounds: media plurality and commitment to British broadcasting standards.

After inviting further written representations from both companies, Bradley told British lawmakers on March 16 that none of Fox’s arguments had persuaded her to drop her concerns. She said she had therefore issued a European intervention notice, and asked Britain’s regulatory agency on communications, Ofcom, and the Competition and Markets Authority to study implications of the acquisition. The two bodies are to report back to Bradley by May 16.

Although the European Commission holds the exclusive power to assess the proposed takeover’s impact on competition in Europe, E.U. rules allow member nations such as Britain to take “appropriate measures, including prohibiting proposed transactions, to protect other legitimate interests, such as media plurality.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content