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SBD Global/September 13, 2017/Media

Murdoch Facing Broadcasting Standards Investigation Over Fox Takeover Of Sky

The Murdoch family "faces a six-month investigation" of its record as a broadcaster and "commitment to editorial standards" following a government decision that will mean a "further delay" in the £11.7B ($15.5B) bid to take full control of Sky, according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that "in light of new representations" on 21st Century Fox's compliance record and its handling of sexual harassment allegations at Fox News, she was "minded to trigger a double investigation" by the Competition & Markets Authority. A broadcasting standards investigation "will run alongside a previously planned probe of the impact of the deal on the public interest in media plurality, amid fears it would grant the Murdochs too much sway over news." Bradley: "I have the power to make a reference [to the CMA] if I believe there is a risk -- which is not purely fanciful -- that the merger might operate against the specified public interests" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12). In London, Graham Ruddick reported Bradley’s announcement "contradicts recommendations" from media regulator Ofcom. It said that there were "grounds for an investigation on media plurality," but the evidence available "did not justify a broadcasting standards investigation." Shares in Sky fell 3% after the announcement "as concerns increased among investors about delays to the takeover and whether it will go ahead" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). The BBC reported U.K. Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said that he welcomed Bradley's decision and praised her as a "good 'un." He said, "I also welcome the Secretary of State's decision, or I should say, the fact that she says she is 'minded to' make that decision, to refer the bid on broadcasting standards grounds as well as on media plurality grounds." Avaaz, a U.S. group that has been campaigning against the proposed Fox-Sky merger, welcomed Bradley's comments. Avaaz Senior Campaigner Alaphia Zoyab said, "It's a great day for democracy, and a bad day for Rupert Murdoch" (BBC, 9/12).
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