21st Century Fox's Proposed Purchase of Sky

As you will be aware, Sky has received an approach from 21st Century Fox to acquire the 61 per cent share of Sky that it does not yet already own.

Under the powers set out in the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has a quasi-judicial role that allows her to intervene on the basis of specified media public interest considerations. These considerations refer to the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of media ownership, for the availability of a wide range of high-quality broadcasting and for those with control of media enterprises to have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives.

On 16 March 2017, the Secretary of State issued a European Intervention Notice on the grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards. This decision was made after hearing representations from Sky, 21st Century Fox and many other third parties.

This decision triggered action by Ofcom to assess and report on the public interest grounds specified and for the Competition and Markets Authority to report on jurisdiction by 20 June.

Following this, on 29 June the Secretary of State released her minded-to - not final - decisions on whether to refer the merger to a full phase two investigation. More details of these can be found on the webpage below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/skyfox-merger

The Secretary of State then accepted representations on her minded-to positions until 14 July and she will now consider the evidence received before coming to a final decision on both grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards.

On timing of the announcement of decision, in the interests of transparency, the Secretary of State gave a statement to the House on 20 July. There she stated that she would fully consider all relevant representations before reaching a final decision. The Secretary of State is acting in a quasi-judicial basis under the Enterprise Act and one of the things she is required to do is act without undue delay, in the interests of all parties. Therefore, it is my understanding that a final decision on referral could be made in the coming weeks.

The Secretary of State did reassure the House of Commons on the 20th July that if she made her decision during recess she would notify all relevant individuals:

“Should this prove to be the case, and as I did previously where stages of the merger have taken place outside of the House sitting, I will write to the parties informing them of my decision, as well as to the Leaders and Speakers of both Houses, to the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) and to the Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.”