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In a blow to billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s plans to buy Sky, the UK government’s regulator has provisionally blocked the £11.7bn deal saying this would concentrate too much power in the media mogul’s hands.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said the deal would give the Murdoch family “too much control over news providers across all media platforms, and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”.
These provisional finding means that Walt Disney will have to decide whether to take full control of Sky when it completes its proposed $66bn takeover of the entertainment assets owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox group in the next year.
The CMA has proposed three possible remedies to address ‘media plurality concerns’: blocking the deal outright, Fox spinning-off or selling the broadcaster’s Sky News operation, or “insulating” Sky News from the “influence” of the Murdoch family.
These proposals will be considered by the CMA, which will then pass its conclusions to Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, who will make a final decision on the deal.
Fox has stated: “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.
“Regarding plurality, we are disappointed by the CMA’s provisional findings. We will continue to engage with the CMA ahead of the publication of the final report in May.”