Sky PLC May Consider Closing Sky News to Meet Regulator's Plurality Concerns

By Ian Walker Features Dow Jones Newswires

Sky PLC (SKY.LN) says it may consider closing Sky News in order to satisfy the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority's concerns over plurality, to ensure its takeover by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) goes ahead.

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Sky said it would likely review its position if Sky News in its current form "unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities" to the group's broader business, such as the takeover by Fox.

In a statement posted on the CMA's website Tuesday, Sky says the regulator shouldn't assume the continued provision of Sky News and its current contribution to plurality, "absent the transaction".

The CMA said last month that it planned to examine how the proposed takeover would affect media plurality and broadcasting standards in the U.K.

21st Century Fox last year announced plans to buy the 61% of Sky that it doesn't already own for 11.7 billion pounds ($15.4 billion). The deal was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority for further investigation by the U.K Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Sept. 20 on public-interest grounds.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley had raised questions about whether the proposed takeover would give one organization too much power in the British media.

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Mr. Murdoch and his family are major shareholders of both Fox and News Corp, which owns a number of British newspapers such as the Times of London, the Sunday Times and the Sun, the U.K.'s best-selling tabloid. News Corp also owns Dow Jones. The proposed deal had already passed muster with European Union antitrust regulators.

Ms. Bradley said previously she was acting partly out of concern about corporate governance at 21st Century Fox.

The regulator is required to report its recommendations to the secretary of state within six months of opening the investigation.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com; @IanWalk40289749

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 08, 2017 05:41 ET (10:41 GMT)