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UK culture Secretary Karen Bradley has delayed the CMA and Ofcom investigations into 21st Century Fox’s £11.7bn bid to seize full control of Sky because of the general election.
In a statement on Friday morning Ms Bradley said the “proximity” of the snap vote on June 8 had forced her to extend the deadline by which Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority were due to publish their findings on the deal to June 20. The original deadline was May 16.
Having already won approval for the deal from EC regulators in Brussels, the delay will be a setback for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox media empire which is pushing to close the deal, which was announced last December, quickly.
Fox has offered shareholders £10.75 a share for the 61 per cent of the European broadcaster it doesn’t already own.
Ms Bradley said:
Given the proximity of this decision to the forthcoming general election and following discussions with the parties, Ofcom, the CMA and the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics team I wrote to Ofcom and the CMA on Friday 21 April to extend the period by which these reports should be submitted to Tuesday 20 June.
UK media regulator Ofcom, which is carrying out a public interest assessment on media plurality and broadcasting standards, added that it would also delay a second inquiry into whether Fox and its senior directors are fit and proper to hold a UK broadcasting licences.
In a statement the watchdog said:
In light of the General Election, the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, has extended the deadline for submission of the public interest report into the proposed Fox/Sky merger until 20 June.
As Ofcom has previously said, the issues we are required to consider in the public interest assessment may overlap with our own consideration of Sky’s fitness to hold broadcasting licences.
Given this overlap, we are extending the consideration of our fit and proper assessment, and expect to reach conclusions on 20 June.
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