The UK government has confirmed that the parties to the proposed merger between Sky and 21st Century Fox have now formally notified the European Commission.
In her action, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, was keen to note that the deal, a hugely controversial act given the history of the Rupert Murdoch-owned firm’s attempts to acquire the pay-TV giant, does raise public interest issues. She remarked: “I can confirm that formal notification for the proposed merger of Sky and 21st Century Fox was lodged with the European Commission… and I have, today, written to the parties to inform them that I am ‘minded to’ issue a European Intervention Notice on the basis that I have concerns that there may be public interest considerations – as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002 – that are relevant to this proposed merger that warrant further investigation.”
The first public interest ground that raised a red flag with Bradley was that of media plurality; specifically, the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises serving audiences in the UK. The second public interest ground on which she was minded to intervene regarded a commitment to broadcasting standards.
Bradley stressed that she had not taken a final decision on intervention and that in line with the guidance that applies to her role she was inviting written representations from the parties and will aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger within 10 working days of the notification.