Rupert Murdoch's influence on British politics goes under the microscope in Sky probe
London (AFP) - A UK investigation into a planned takeover of TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will assess the tycoon’s influence on the country’s political landscape, regulators said Tuesday.
Overall, Britain’s Competitions and Markets Authority will assess the impact of the Murdoch family’s proposed deal on both broadcasting standards and media plurality, the CMA said in a statement.
The deal – worth £11.7 billion ($15.4 billion, 13 billion euros) – would see entertainment group 21st Century Fox buy the 61-percent of pan-European satellite TV company Sky it does not already own.
The British government last month referred the takeover for an in-depth probe to the CMA.
On Tuesday the regulator set out the scope of the investigation, with a final report due early next year.
The CMA will seek to prevent “any one media owner, or voice, having too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”, it said in the statement.
The regulator’s probe will scrutinise the ability of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) to “control or influence editorial and commercial decisions” at Sky News, a 24-hour news channel broadcast from London.
It will assess also the current state of plurality within the UK media, and the commitment to accuracy in newspapers controlled by the MFT’s News Corp division, including The Times and The Sun.
Additionally, 21st Century Fox’s record of corporate governance and treatment of employees will come under scrutiny.
Anne Lambert, who is chairing the probe, said the CMA would “thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover”.
UK communications watchdog Ofcom has said it found no grounds for blocking Fox’s bid in regard to broadcasting standards, although it did raise media plurality concerns.