×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Networks Group’s London Offices Raided by European Commission

The London offices of 21st Century Fox’s Fox Networks Group were raided by European Commission investigators Tuesday as part of a wider probe into possible anti-competitive practices regarding the distribution of sports rights in the region.

“The European Commission can confirm that on 10 April 2018 its officials carried out unannounced inspections in several [European Union] member states at the premises of companies active in the distribution of media rights and related rights pertaining to various sports events and/or their broadcasting,” the commission said in a statement.

A spokesman for Fox Networks Group said in a statement to Variety that the company was “cooperating fully with the EC inspection.” The investigation was first reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said documents and computer records had been seized.

Fox Networks Group currently comprises Fox Television Group, which includes Fox Broadcasting and 20th Century Fox Television; Fox Sports Media Group; Fox Cable Networks, which includes FX Networks and National Geographic Partners; and Fox Networks Group Europe, Asia and Latin America. The Fox Network Group’s office that was raided — in Hammersmith in West London — is separate from both the corporate headquarters of 21st Century Fox in London and from those of Sky, the satellite pay-TV operator in which it is the major shareholder.

The European Commission is empowered to investigate potential violations of EU anti-monopoly and competition regulations. The commission’s statement stressed that its inspections of various companies’ premises did not indicate guilt.

“The commission has concerns that the companies involved may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the EC said, adding: “Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”

The commission has already given the green light to Fox’s attempted $15 billion takeover of Sky. That deal is currently tied up in scrutiny by Britain’s competition watchdog, and not at the European level.

Fox has offered concessions to British regulators to ease the takeover through. The media conglomerate last week proposed for Disney — which is trying to buy Fox’s 20th Century Fox and other assets — to acquire Sky News if that would assuage concerns over the news channel’s independence from Fox as well as worries that Rupert Murdoch and his family would have too much control of the British media.

Under 21CF’s pending deal with Disney, Fox Networks Group would split apart: The “new” Fox is to encompass Fox Broadcasting, Fox News, Fox Sports 1 and 2, Big Ten Network and Fox Deportes, while the rest will go to Disney.

More TV

  • Rocko's Modern Life reboot

    Nickelodeon and Netflix Ink New Multi-Year Output Deal for Original Animated Features, Shows

    In an expansion of their relationship, Netflix and Nickelodeon have formed a new multi-year output deal to produce original animated features and television series, based on both existing Nickelodeon characters as well as brand-new ones. The Viacom-owned kids content producer has previously brought to life “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” and “Invader Zim: Enter the [...]

  • bravo-pepsi-sparkling-rose

    Bravo Fans Get First Taste of Pepsi Champagne as NBCU Lures Madison Ave. to New Events

    NBCUniversal is best known among advertisers for selling TV commercials. Now the media giant wants to burnish its reputation for selling something that is only tangentially related to the TV screen. People who signed up for the company’s “BravoCon 2019” fan event, slated to take place between November 15 and November 17 in New York [...]

  • Rob Lowe TCA

    Rob Lowe's British Cop Series ‘Wild Bill’ Axed by ITV

    Rob Lowe’s fish-out-of-water British cop show “Wild Bill” will not get a second season. Despite the pull of big-name U.S. talent, the series failed to set ratings alight in the U.K. and garnered mixed reviews. British broadcaster ITV said Wednesday that the show will not be coming back. The series saw “West Wing” star Lowe [...]

  • Jan Guillou's 'The Great Century' Being

    Jan Guillou's 'The Great Century' Being Adapted as Epic Drama Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    “The Great Century” is being adapted as an epic drama series by Dramacorp-Pampas Studios, which has landed the rights to Swedish author Jan Guillou’s book series. Guillou is known for his “Hamilton” spy-thriller novels, which Dramacorp-Pampas Studios has brought to TV as “Agent Hamilton.” That project had an international premiere at Mipcom and has presold [...]

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Variety to Honor Jax Media Chiefs Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns at New Leaders Event

    Emmy Award-winning producer Tony Hernandez and Emmy-nominated producer Lilly Burns will receive the Creative Leadership Award on behalf of Jax Media at the Variety New Leaders event presented by City National Bank, taking place Nov. 14 in New York City. As founders of Jax Media, Hernandez and Burns have produced shows and specials such as [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Virginia Leith, Female Lead in Stanley Kubrick's First Film, Dies at 94

    Actress and model Virginia Leith, who starred in Stanley Kubrick’s first film “Fear and Desire,” which he later disavowed, has died. She was 94. According to family spokesperson Jane Chalmers, Leith died after a brief illness at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. on Nov. 4. Born on Oct. 15, 1925, Leith met Kubrick in [...]

  • Friends

    'Friends' Reunion Special in Early Planning Stages at HBO Max

    More “Friends” could well be there for you when the HBO Max rain starts to fall. An unscripted “Friends” reunion special is in the works at the forthcoming WarnerMedia streamer, Variety has confirmed with sources. Sources say original cast members Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are in discussions [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content