LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch will have to wait a few more weeks to know whether Twenty-First Century Fox’s FOXA.O bid for Sky SKYB.L will be referred for a lengthy British investigation.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, who is weighing whether to send the deal for an inquiry, repeated her view from last month that the $15 billion deal should be scrutinized to see if it gave Murdoch too much influence over Britain’s media.
But she said on Thursday she needed to look at the evidence received since then before taking a decision, which was likely to be in the next few weeks.
“There has not been time to consider all the representations and I am not in a position today to make my final decision on referral,” she told lawmakers.
“Having carefully reviewed the party’s representations, and in the absence of further proposed undertakings, I am still minded to refer on the media plurality grounds, and still minded not to accept the undertakings in lieu of a referral.”
Bradley last month rejected proposals by Murdoch’s Fox to ensure the independence of Sky’s news service if was allowed to buy the 61 percent of Sky it did not already own.
Fox said it had offered comprehensive proposals to mitigate any concerns about media influence that had been accepted by the regulator Ofcom.
“Consequently, we are disappointed that the Secretary of State remains minded to refer on plurality,” the company said.
“In light of the transaction’s benefits to the UK creative economy, we would urge the Secretary of State to complete the regulatory process expeditiously.”
Sky said it was “disappointed” by the delay, noting that the deal had been cleared by other regulators, including the European Commission, in the almost eight months since it was announced.
“A decision by the Secretary of State on the next step in the process, whatever that may be, now needs to be made as swiftly as possible,” a spokesman said.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton and Alexander Smith