You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Still Expects Sky Takeover to Go Through, but Opponents Rejoice

21st Century Fox said Tuesday it remained confident of achieving British government approval of its proposed takeover of Sky, but campaigners against the deal rejoiced at the U.K. competition watchdog’s warning that it would weaken media plurality and undermine the public interest.

“A landmark finding by the Competition and Markets Authority,” former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband tweeted Tuesday. “The Sky deal would give the Murdochs too much power. Finally a regulator says No to the Murdochs.”

After months of review, the competition authority said in a preliminary report Tuesday morning that Fox’s $15-billion takeover bid for Sky would concentrate too much media power in the hands of the Murdoch family, which would own Sky News, the Times of London newspaper, and the mass-market tabloid The Sun.

“Media plurality goes to the heart of our democratic process. It is very important that no group or individual should have too much control of our news media or too much power to affect the political agenda,” said Anne Lambert, chairwoman of the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation group. The Fox-Sky merger as currently proposed “would result in the Murdoch family having too much control over news providers in the U.K., and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.”

The findings issued Tuesday by the competition authority are provisional, however. In the report, the authority suggested that Fox might be able to answer some of its concerns over media plurality by spinning off Sky News or setting up mechanisms preventing the Murdochs from exercising editorial control. Fox and others now have three weeks to respond before the CMA issues its final say on the matter, due by May 1.

Fox said it would “continue to engage” with the CMA. “Today’s provisional findings move our proposed Sky transaction forward to the next phase of the regulatory review process,” the company said in a statement, adding: “We anticipate regulatory approval of the transaction by June 30, 2018.”

London-based investment analyst Liberum changed its recommendation on Sky from “buy” to “hold” after the CMA’s findings were released, citing “an increased risk that the acquisition [will] not go through.” It put the chances of the deal collapsing at 40%.

Tom Watson, the Labour Party’s spokesman on media and culture and a fierce critic of the Murdochs, welcomed the CMA’s preliminary report, calling it “the right decision.”

Advocacy group Avaaz, which opposes the Fox-Sky merger, also welcomed the competition authority’s findings.

“The authorities are right to block Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over even more of our news, which would make a mockery of the rules designed to protect the media,” said Alex Wilks, campaign director for the organization. “Now they need to expose the full extent of harassment, hacking, and pro-Trump bias at the Murdoch media empire.”

But the CMA’s provisional findings dismissed warnings from critics that Fox would fail to meet British broadcasting standards. “We did not find public interest concerns in this regard,” Lambert said.

More TV

  • Rick Gomez

    'NYPD Blue' Pilot at ABC Adds Rick Gomez in Series Regular Role

    The “NYPD Blue” sequel pilot has cast Rick Gomez in the series regular role of Det. Craig Pettibone, Variety has learned. Pettibone is studying law at night with the goal of passing the bar one day. Although he hasn’t passed it yet, he’s aggressive enough to be already drumming up clients by passing out his business [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    How Fox's Live Version of 'Rent' Honors and 'Enhances' Jonathan Larson's Vision

    In the more than 20 years since Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” first debuted on Broadway, the conversation of adaptation has often come up: Film director Chris Columbus infamously brought the story to the big screen in 2005, Michael John Warren similarly shot one of the final performances of the original theater run in 2008, and talk [...]

  • Conversations With a Killer: The Ted

    TV Review: 'Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes'

    The title “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” Netflix’s new four-part documentary series launching Jan. 24, is slightly misleading. Not about its subject, Bundy, the infamous serial killer who finally confessed to some 30 murders before his 1989 death in the electric chair. The misnomer is “Conversations.” While we hear Bundy’s voice on [...]

  • Marvel's The Punisher

    'Punisher' Star Jon Bernthal on Season 2, Broken Bones and Frank's 'Self-Loathing'

    “The Punisher” returns for its second season today, opening on a Frank Castle in search of a more peaceful life. “He’s dipping his toes in the potential waters of peace,” series star Jon Bernthal told Variety. “He’s flirting with human interaction and human connection. I think it goes awry pretty quickly. There’s a kernel of truth that [...]

  • Emmys statue

    TV Academy to Eliminate Emmy DVD Screeners in 2020

    The Television Academy will eliminate distribution of DVD screeners for eligible shows beginning with the 2020 Emmy cycle. Designed to eliminate both monetary and physical waste, the move will have a substantive impact on the strategy of Emmy marketers. It also makes the academy the first major entertainment-industry organization to bar physical screeners. “This is [...]

  • Black-ish Actor Deon Cole Lands New

    'Black-ish' Star Deon Cole Talks Diversity in Television and Landing New Dream Role

    2019 is shaping up to be Deon Cole’s year, and to hear the actor and comedian tell it, “the stars have lined up and everything is coming together.” Fresh off the Season 2 premiere of Freeform’s “Grown-ish,” with Cole reprising his “Black-ish” role of Professor Charlie Telphy, the actor takes on a slightly different role [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content