British Competition Watchdog Delays Report on Fox-Sky Takeover Bid

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority has delayed issuing its provisional decision on 21st Century Fox’s $15 billion takeover bid for Sky by a month.

Instead of publishing its findings during the week of Dec. 18, as originally scheduled, the watchdog agency will issue its report in January. A spokesperson for the authority said that the delay was due to the vast number of submissions the body has received about the proposed takeover, even before the deadline for such representations expires Friday.

“It is not unusual for us to update our timetables,” the spokesperson said. “In this case, we have received a large body of evidence – including numerous face-to-face hearings and more than 12,000 submissions – so it is vital that we spend the time to reach an informed and considered provisional view.”

The British government referred the bid for further scrutiny by the competition watchdog earlier this year, asking it to judge whether full ownership of Sky by Fox would adversely affect media plurality in the U.K. The merger would put award-winning news channel Sky News under the umbrella of the Murdoch family, which already owns British newspapers such as The Times of London and the Sun tabloid.

Potentially complicating the bid further is a possible marriage of Disney and Fox. The two companies are discussing a deal that would reportedly see Disney buy a number of Fox’s assets, including its film and TV studios and the 39% stake it already owns in European satellite broadcaster Sky. Whether Disney would continue to pursue full ownership of Sky, if it reaches an agreement with Fox, is open to question.

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