Rupert Murdoch’s planned takeover of Sky would give the media mogul’s family “too much influence over public opinion and the public agenda”, according to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA provisionally found that 21st Century Fox’s current £11.7 billion Sky bid is not in the public interest on the grounds of media plurality, with the deal giving the Murdochs too much control over UK news providers.
However, it did not discover any issues with the company’s commitment to meeting UK broadcasting standards.
News outlets controlled by the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) are already watched, read or heard by nearly a third of the UK population.
That is significantly greater than all other news providers, apart from the BBC and ITV.
Other news outlets would not be sufficient to “moderate or mitigate” the influence of MFT if the deal went ahead, the CMA reported.
Walt Disney has agreed a £39 billion deal to buy Fox’s entertainment assets, so may end up owning Sky.
Anne Lambert, chair of the independent investigation group, said: “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.”
21st Century Fox said it was “disappointed” by the CMA’s provisional findings regarding media plurality, saying it will “continue to engage” with the authority ahead of the the publication of the final report in May.
But the company added in it’s statement: “We welcome the CMA’s provisional finding that the Company has a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards and the transaction would not be against the public interest in this respect.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sky pointed out that the CMA had set out possible remedies to concerns around media plurality, adding that the company is “seeking submissions on these”.
The authority’s final report will be provided to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, by May 1. Hancock will then make the final decision on the proposed deal.