You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox, Sky Welcome British OK of Takeover Bid; Murdoch Opponents Vow to Fight On

21st Century Fox and Sky welcomed the British government’s conditional approval Tuesday of Fox’s bid to take complete control of the European satcaster, but the prospect of a bidding war with Comcast looms, and Fox’s critics pledged to keep up their opposition to the $15-billion deal.

Fox said it has already sent British authorities its plans to offload Sky News to Disney, which is trying to buy Fox’s entertainment assets. Shedding well-regarded Sky News is a condition of the government’s approval of the Sky takeover, British culture secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers Tuesday. He also said there were not sufficient grounds to block the deal over any alleged lack of commitment by the Murdoch family to British broadcasting standards.

21st Century Fox welcomes today’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that he has cleared 21CF’s proposed acquisition of the remaining shares in Sky on broadcasting standards, as recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority,” Fox said in a statement. The company added that it “has already submitted proposed undertakings to achieve the divestiture of Sky News to Disney.”

Given the protracted scrutiny of its bid thus far, Fox said it hoped that this next step in the process would wrap up within weeks. “We note that the Secretary of State agrees with this solution and has instructed officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to agree [on] final undertakings that he would be prepared to accept and consult on within the two-week timeframe….We now look forward to engaging with DCMS and we are confident that we will reach a final decision clearing our transaction.”

Comcast, which has put forward a richer offer for Sky, has not commented on Hancock’s decision that it does not have to jump through the same regulatory hoops as Fox.

For its part, Sky “welcomed the announcements” by Hancock on Tuesday but has yet to get behind either Fox’s or Comcast’s offer for the business. It had originally backed Fox’s bid, but after Comcast submitted a bigger proposal in April, it withdrew that backing and has so far avoided coming down in favor of either suitor.

“The independent directors of Sky are mindful of their fiduciary duties and remain focused on maximizing value for Sky shareholders,” Sky said in a statement, describing Hancock’s decision to green-light Fox’s bid if it unloads Sky News as “a good starting point.”

It added: “Sky also notes the Secretary of State’s final decision not to intervene on public-interest grounds in relation to the Comcast offer for Sky.”

There was no major movement in Sky’s share price following Tuesday’s developments.

Fox still faces opposition from anti-Murdoch politicians and activists. “Matt Hancock must be the last person in Britain who trusts Rupert Murdoch,” said Alex Wilks, campaign director for grass-roots group Avaaz. “It’s laughable that Murdoch’s suddenly going to hand over full control of Sky News. Murdoch’s lobbyists may have Hancock’s ear, but citizens across Britain are not going to hand over more of our media without a fight.”

Avaaz has been given the go-ahead to mount a legal challenge to Ofcom’s assessment that there were not concerns over the Murdochs as “fit and proper” owners of Sky. If that challenge is successful, it could force the media regulator to re-investigate the Fox-Sky bid.

U.S.-based Media Matters welcomed the British government’s requirement that Fox offload Sky News. “Media Matters has actively opposed 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky, warning about the ‘Foxification’ of Sky News and the harms it would bring to the U.K.’s public debate,” said president Angelo Carusone. “I’m glad the culture secretary has heeded those warnings in making it clear that, due to the dangers associated with increased Murdoch control over the public debate, Sky News must be spun off and removed from the deal entirely before it can proceed.”

Disney, which is in line to become the new owner of Sky News and to acquire Fox’s stakes in Sky, issued a brief statement. “We welcome today’s announcement from the Secretary of State and are ready to engage in any discussions requested by the Secretary of State with respect to our undertakings,” it said.

More TV

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • Michael Che Defends Kevin Hart on

    Michael Che Ribs Academy Over Kevin Hart Controversy on 'SNL'

    Kevin Hart may have alienated some in Hollywood over his recently resurfaced homophobic tweets, but that didn’t stop “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che from cracking some jokes in support of Hart on Dec. 8’s “Saturday Night Live.” After briefly recapping that Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars after the 2011 tweets came to light, [...]


    'The Umbrella Academy' Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

    The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. “The Umbrella Academy” stars [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jason Momoa"

    Robert De Niro Appears as Robert Mueller in 'Saturday Night Live' Cold Open

    Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance as special counsel Robert Mueller in “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open. De Niro popped out of a closet in a sketch that skewered President Donald Trump and the mounting legal pressure Mueller’s investigation has put on many of Trump’s associates. Alex Moffatt played Eric Trump in a bedtime-story [...]

  • ‘The Breadwinner,’ ‘Ivandoe’ Top 2019 European

    ‘The Breadwinner,’ ‘The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe’ Top 2018 Emile Awards

    LILLE, France – “The Breadwinner” director Nora Twomey and “The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe” directors Christian Bøving-Andersen and Eva Lee Wallberg took top honors at Saturday night’s second edition of the European Animation Awards (EAA) in Lille, France, scooping best feature and best TV/broadcast production respectively. It was an evening of beautiful [...]

  • The King Eric Clapton A Life

    Rashida Jones, Lili Zanuck Talk Grammy Nominations and the Music-Documentary Gold Rush

    Nothing takes you back to time and a place like the music of a particular era. That’s one big reason why music documentaries are flourishing at a time of enormous demand for high-end docu productions. This year’s five Grammy Award nominees for best music film reflect the appetite for stories about renowned and beloved musical figures, [...]

  • Sacred Games Indian Television

    'Sacred Games,' 'Miss Sherlock' Win Asian Academy Creative Awards

    Hulu Japan and HBO Asia’s “Miss Sherlock” won best drama series at the inaugural Asian Academy Creative Awards. The awards were spread over two evenings at Singapore’s Capitol Theatre on Friday and Saturday. India’s Anurag Kashyap won best direction (fiction) for season one of Netflix original series “Sacred Games.” The series also won best editing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content