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Bradley minded to refer Sky's Fox takeover to CMA over broadcasting standards

12 September 2017

Karen Bradley said she was referring the takeover the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the grounds of media plurality.

In recent weeks paperwork has gone between the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and the regulator Ofcom as Ms Bradley sought clarification on a number of points.

"The existence of non-fanciful concerns means that - as a matter of law - the threshold for a reference on the broadcasting standards ground is met".

However, in its latest update, Ofcom clarified it did have "non-fanciful concerns" on broadcasting standards.

Of the representations Ms Bradley said around 30 of the 43,000 pieces of correspondence received were "substantive", but a "significant majority were campaign-inspired, arguing against the merger going ahead, but generally without providing new or further evidence or commenting on Ofcom's approach". "These are matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral".

Ofcom originally advised Bradley that the fit and proper and broadcasting standards elements of the deal did not warrant further probes, but the media plurality issues did. "However, I am not confident that weaknesses in Fox's corporate governance arrangements are incapable of affecting compliance in the broadcasting standards context", she said.

On Tuesday she said she was minded to also ask for a six-month investigation into whether Fox would uphold broadcasting standards, following complaints over the management of Fox News in the United States.

Bradley minded to refer Sky's Fox takeover to CMA over broadcasting standards