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British Government Receives Report on Fox-Sky Bid From Competition Watchdog

The U.K. competition watchdog has submitted its report on the Fox-Sky takeover bid to the British government. Culture secretary Matt Hancock now has until June 13 to decide whether to green-light the proposed $15 billion deal that would see 21st Century Fox take full control of pan-European satcaster Sky.

Hancock said in a written statement Tuesday that the report from the Competition and Markets Authority had been received by his department. The report’s contents were not disclosed. In January, the authority issued a provisional finding warning that the proposed takeover would result in too much media control in Britain resting in the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his family, but Fox has since offered concessions, or “undertakings,” that it says adequately address those concerns.

“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,” Hancock said.

He added: “When I have reached a decision I will return to Parliament to make an oral statement. I will come to a view on whether to make a final order or accept any final undertakings in due course, and will consult on these publicly, but not before I have taken a decision on the public interest tests.”

Hancock said he would not make any further comment ahead of the final decision.

Fox owns 39% of Sky, Europe’s largest pay-TV operator, and is seeking to buy the chunk it does not hold. Its offer has been approved by regulators in all of the relevant jurisdictions aside from the U.K., where it has faltered in the wake of strong opposition based on concerns about media ownership and the Murdoch family’s fitness as owners.

A Sky committee formed to look at the Fox offer has withdrawn its earlier recommendation of the offer in the wake of a richer bid from Comcast. The U.S. cable giant and NBCUniversal parent company made its offer formal last week.

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