Comcast's Sky Bid: U.K. Culture Secretary Sees No Initial Public Interest Concerns

Brian Roberts - Getty - H 2016
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Brian Roberts - Getty - H 2016

Matt Hancock says he is “minded” not to give the deal the same in-depth review that 21st Century Fox has been going through.

U.K. culture secretary Matt Hancock said Monday he was "minded" not to request the same type of in-depth regulatory review of Comcast’s bid for European pay TV giant Sky that 21st Century Fox has been going through.

He said his initial thinking about the deal review was formed "on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention."

Observers had expected this decision, which the minister will have to make final in the near future. Fox's deal for Sky has been reviewed in-depth for its impact on U.K. media plurality and broadcastcasting standards given that the Murdoch family controls both Fox and News Corp, which runs big British newspapers The Sun and The Times.

"This is a quasi-judicial decision and I am required to make my decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial, and as quickly as possible," Hancock said. "I will now allow until 5pm on Thursday 24 May for interested parties to submit written representations, and I aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger shortly."

The European Union's Commission is reviewing the deal on the European level.

Comcast late last month made its previously planned $31 billion bid for Sky official, trump[ing Fox's offer for the 61 percent stake in Sky that it doesn't currently own.

Fox agreed to buy the remaining stake in December 2016, but is still waiting for the U.K. government to unveil, next month, its final decision on whether to allow the deal.