Culture secretary Karen Bradley will discuss her initial decision on the deal, or a potential extended review, next week.
U.K. media regulator Ofcom on Tuesday, as planned, submitted the findings of its review of 21st Century Fox’s proposed deal to take full control of European pay TV giant Sky — in which the entertainment company already owns a 39 percent stake — to the British government.
U.K. culture secretary Karen Bradley confirmed receipt of the reports. But, as expected in this process, neither Bradley, nor Ofcom, immediately shared any of the key findings or other content of the review, which is set up as a quasi-judicial process, in which the secretary must decide the next step.
Bradley, who has remained U.K. culture secretary in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new government, earlier this year said the transaction would be formally reviewed by Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the latter of which focused its work on its jurisdiction in the review process. The regulators originally had until May 16 to prepare their reports, but the deadline was later pushed back to Tuesday due to the recent U.K. election.
The Ofcom review for the culture secretary focused on whether the deal would have harmful effects on editorial standards and U.K. media plurality, meaning whether it would reduce the number of voices in the country’s media landscape by concentrating too much power in the hands of key players, given that Rupert Murdoch controls Fox and newspaper company News Corp, which owns British newspapers The Times and The Sun.
Critics have said the Murdochs have too much power as owners of Fox and News Corp, while Fox has highlighted its separation from News Corp a few years ago and the rising influence of online and social media.
Separately, Ofcom, as part of its ongoing mandate, also looked at whether Sky would remain a “fit and proper” TV license holder under the ownership of Fox, which had brought back discussion about the phone-hacking scandal and Fox News’ recent legal issues.
Critics have also pointed to lawsuits claiming racial and sexual harassment at Fox News as a sign of weak corporate governance. “21st Century Fox has demonstrated its clear commitment to providing a positive, safe and inclusive workplace free of harassment and discrimination,” Fox has said in response. “The company’s management has taken prompt and decisive action to address reports of sexual harassment and workplace issues at Fox News.”