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8 Nov, 2017 11:59

Sky News could face the chop if network hampers Murdoch takeover

Sky News could face the chop if network hampers Murdoch takeover

The Sword of Damocles is hanging over Sky News, ready to slice the UK news network if it becomes an obstacle in the merger between Sky and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Fox currently owns 39 percent of Sky, but is now vying for full control.

The deal is currently being assessed by media regulators amid fears the Murdoch empire’s monopoly over the UK media would become too great if the sale were to go ahead.

In a statement responding to issues with the deal laid out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sky warned the regulator not to assume the “continued provision of Sky News.”

The CMA is an independent, non-ministerial government department for the purpose of keeping competition and consumer authority in check in the UK.

“Sky would likely be prompted to review the position in the event that the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities,” Sky’s statement said.

In September, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley referred Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky to the CMA.

James Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox, urged the government to “remove the noise and get to the facts” of the deal, when speaking to the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge.

“We owned 100 percent of [Sky] for many, many years – there were no issues,” Murdoch said.

“When I was chief executive – no issues. And when I was chairman – and I’m chairman again – no issues. So the record has to count for something.”

CMA panel chair Anne Lambert will lead the investigation into the potential takeover.

“The CMA will use its extensive experience of investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox,” Lambert said.

“Once the investigation is complete we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision.”