21st Century Fox will learn whether it will be allowed to take over European pay-TV operator Sky in the next six weeks after the British government revealed that it has received its final regulatory report.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has received the report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and has until June 13 to make a decision as to whether Rupert Murdoch’s studio is a fit and proper owner of the 61% of the company that it does not already own.
“Today I received the final report from the CMA regarding the findings of their phase two investigation,” Hancock told the House of Commons.
“Now that I have received this report, I must come to my decision and publish the report within 30 working days. 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. Given my ongoing quasi-judicial role, I will not be making any comment about the substance of the report until I publish my decision,” he added.
It is the latest update on the case that has taken 18 months. In January, the CMA dealt a blow to the bid, saying it was “not in the public interest.” However, Disney, which is in the process of acquiring the entertainment assets of Fox, soon stepped in, saying it would buy the Sky share to help get the $15B deal over the line. Fox also threatened to shut down Sky News, the biggest regulatory thorn in the company’s side, if it impeded “corporate opportunities”.
All of this comes as Comcast swooped in earlier this month to make a higher offer for Sky than Fox. The latter, aided by Disney, must now decide whether to make an improved offer for the satellite broadcaster.
This, it seems, may not be the end of the global tug of war centered around Osterley.