Britain’s media regulator Ofcom has formally submitted the findings of its review of 21st Century Fox’s proposed £11.7B (($14.7B) takeover of pay-TV giant Sky as planned. The report, which was conducted to assess issues of media plurality, was received by UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley on Tuesday and, as expected, contents of the report have not been disclosed.
In March, Ofcom was instructed to investigate Fox’s bid to acquire the 61% share of Sky which it did not already own as a matter of public interest. Bradley issued a European intervention notice requesting Ofcom to report by May 16 to the department with regard to both plurality and commitment to broadcast standards. (That date was shifted to today after British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election on June 8).
In a statement on Tuesday, Ofcom confirmed the submission of the “public interest report” saying that “the Secretary of State will now decide whether to refer the proposed deal to the Competition and Markets Authority for a ‘phase’ two inquiry.” It said a decision on this was expected to be made by June 29.
Ofcom has an ongoing duty to be satisfied that the holders of broadcast licenses are fit and proper to hold such licenses. The public interest test that Ofcom had been asked to make and the fit and proper test are separate legal processes.
This isn’t the first time the Murdochs have been down the fit and proper path. In 2011, the UK phone-hacking scandal forced the then-News Corp to scrap a deal to acquire the rest of Sky, a takeover long-coveted by Murdoch Sr.