Sky "disappointed" at latest delay to Fox's takeover bid

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After weeks of deliberation, Ms Bradley confirmed in Parliament she intends to ask the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct a fuller investigation into the bid on the grounds of media plurality, and other issues. Bradley had previously said only an investigation into the former question was necessary.

Sky said in a statement it was "disappointed by this further delay".

Bradley said her decision to refer the deal for an extended review on both grounds wasn't quite final yet.

Corporate governance issues, although overlapping on broadcast standards, will be considered by the CMA.

I am, today, publishing the exchanges between my Department and Ofcom.

Decision on £11.7 billion deal to be pushed back another 6 months pending regulator's approval.

British broadcasters are bound by stricter rules governing balance and neutrality than those in the United States, where Fox News' partisan style has won it a large audience.

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She said some representations contended that Ofcom did not adequately take into account Fox's approach to broadcasting in worldwide jurisdictions - for example, the U.S. and Australia - citing examples of "alleged biased, divisive and grossly inaccurate reporting".

In Ofcom's original report, the regulator concluded there were "no broadcasting standards concerns that may justify a reference" to the CMA on grounds of broadcasting standards. "The tricky thing is corporate governance and where that fits in to the picture".

Ofcom said there was no reason to think the deal was against the public interest on broadcasting standards grounds but indicated it did have concerns on plurality of media ownership. "We are surprised that after independent regulatory scrutiny and advice, and over four months to examine the case, the Secretary of State is still unable to form an opinion", Fox said. It urged her to take a final decision quickly.

Fox already has a 39 percent stake in Sky.

Wrongdoing at News Corp's United Kingdom newspapers scuppered a 2010 attempt to buy the rest of Sky, while this time, sexual- and racial-harassment allegations at Fox News have given opponents ammunition to slow a deal that initially appeared on track to sail through. Subsequently, Sky dropped the carriage of the USA news channel citing poor audience figures.

Fox, which initially said it expected the deal to be done by the end of 2017, must pay a breakup fee of 200 million pounds if it isn't completed by August 2018. Bradley noted that the first concern was raised in Ofcom's public interest report outlining that that Fox did not have adequate compliance procedures in place for the broadcast of Fox News in the United Kingdom and only took action to improve its approach to compliance after Ofcom expressed concerns.

The deal's progress has already been set back by the upheaval of the United Kingdom general election, the furore over racial and sexual harassment allegations at Fox News and obstruction by the deal's opponents. "The new investigation into the Murdochs" bid for Sky TV is a "golden opportunity' to uncover new evidence against the Sky takeover", said campaign group Avaaz, which had threatened Bradley with legal action.

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