UK government seeks ‘further clarification’ on Fox-Sky merger from Ofcom


The UK government announced that it has received additional information from the communications watchdog Ofcom, as part of its review of the proposed merger of Sky with 21st Century Fox.

In August, the Culture Department sought further clarification in relation to representations made on the Secretary of State’s referral decision on the merger.

The Department said: “Following the advice received from Ofcom on 25 August 2017, the Secretary of State sought clarification from Ofcom on some aspects of the advice.

“We have, today, received Ofcom’s response and the Secretary of State will now carefully consider the advice before making her decision on referral on the basis of all the evidence before her, as soon as is reasonably practicable.”

The Secretary of State’s requests to Ofcom are expected to be published in due course. Ofcom will also reveal its advice on the transaction at the same time.

In March, UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley had asked Ofcom and the CMA to assess the implications of the proposed merger.

The Department earlier said: “Any referral decision by the Secretary of State must be taken on the basis of a valid assessment of all the relevant evidence.

“For this reason the DCMS has asked Ofcom to advise on a number of points arising from these representations.”

In December last year, Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox had made an offer to acquire a 61% stake in Sky for $14.8bn (£11.8bn).

Fox already owns 39% stake in Sky, a British satellite broadcasting, on-demand internet streaming media, broadband and telephone services firm.

The proposed deal is expected to allow Fox to gain access to Sky’s 22 million customers in Europe.
But the merger was opposed by some quarters who expressed concerns that it could give Murdoch an increased control of media in the UK.