UK to decide on Murdoch's Sky takeover bid in weeks


Britain will within "weeks" decide whether to formally investigate the proposed takeover of pan-European satellite TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox entertainment group, the government said Thursday.

Karen Bradley, the Conservative government's minister for culture, media and sport, said she was "still minded" to launch an in-depth investigation into the £11.4 billion (12.9-billion euro, $14.8 billion) bid for the 61-percent of Sky not yet owned by 21st Century Fox.

But Bradley said she had not had time to consider fully all the evidence to make a final decision on a probe by the Competition and Markets Authority into whether the deal would threaten media plurality.

"I expect I will be in a position to come to a final decision on referral... in the coming weeks," she told parliament on its final day before a summer recess.

The blockbuster takeover has already been approved by regulators in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy as well as the European Union, but not yet in Britain.

British media watchdog Ofcom earlier warned the deal would hand Australian-born US tycoon Murdoch "increased influence" over Britain's news agenda and the political process.

Murdoch had previously failed in 2011 to buy the pay-TV group, then known as BSkyB, due to a phone-hacking scandal at his now-defunct News of the World tabloid newspaper.

In its assessment, Ofcom argued that the latest takeover bid raised "public interest concerns" and could warrant a full investigation on grounds of media plurality.

21st Century Fox is one of the world's largest entertainment companies with a vast portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay-TV and satellite assets across six continents.

Sky broadcasts a similar offering, including the 24-hour Sky News channel, and also provides internet and telephone services.

In late 2014, Sky changed its name from BSkyB after buying Sky Italia and a majority holding in Sky Deutschland.

21st Century Fox currently holds a 39- percent stake in Sky.

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