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British Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has now officially referred 21st Century Fox’s proposed deal for full ownership of pay TV giant Sky to the country’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on public interest grounds.
The CMA said Wednesday that it would in its extended so-called phase two review “examine how the deal would impact media plurality and broadcasting standards in the U.K.”
The CMA’s panel chair Anne Lambert will serve as head of the panel that will lead the review. She is a former deputy director general of Britain’s Office of Telecommunications and a former U.K. deputy permanent representative to the EU, among other things.
The other panel members are Sarah Chambers, a former CEO of the Postal Services Commission and former director of consumer and competition policy for the Department of Business Innovation & Skills; John Krumins, who has sat on a number of boards of technology, data and services companies and has more than 20 years’ experience in banking, with expertise in mergers and acquisitions, including in media and technology; and Tim Tutton, a specialist in economic regulation. All appointees were chosen from the CMA’s expert independent panel members who come from a variety of backgrounds.
“We’ll be investigating the impact of the merger on two grounds — media plurality in the U.K. and a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards,” the CMA said.
“We have experience investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors, from publishing to hospitals and even defense,” Lambert said. “We will use that same evidence-based approach to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox on the public interest grounds of media plurality and a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards.”
Once the six-month investigation, for which the CMA also published a timetable, including comment opportunities, is completed, the CMA will report back to Bradley for her to make a final decision.
Media plurality is defined as “a diversity of independent views about news and current affairs is available from the media,” the CMA said Wednesday. “It also means that one person or group does not have too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.”
Broadcasting standards are defined in Britain’s Communications Act of 2003 and apply to programs aired on television and radio in the U.K. They include “reporting the news with accuracy and impartiality, and ensuring harmful or offensive material is not broadcast on radio and TV,” the CMA said.
It also highlighted: “The CMA can only look at the issues which have been referred to us by the Secretary of State and can’t widen the scope of this inquiry. We therefore can’t look at competition issues arising from the merger, as these have already been investigated and cleared by the European Commission.”
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