Fox takes issue with UK government analysis of Sky deal

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By Paul Sandle and Kate Holton | LONDON

LONDON Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox said it was not surprised the British government wanted
to scrutinise its takeover of Sky, but disputed the
analysis that led to the view the deal may not be in the public
interest.

The company, which already owns 39 percent of Sky, agreed in
December to buy the rest of the pay-TV group for 11.7 billion
pounds ($14.2 billion), triggering a regulatory review of the
politically sensitive deal.

Media Secretary Karen Bradley said on Friday she was likely
to intervene to see if any one company would control too much of
Britain’s media, and whether the new owners would have a genuine
commitment to broadcasting standards.

The deal came five years after a political and criminal
scandal at Murdoch’s British newspaper business derailed an
earlier bid.

In a letter to the Department of Media made public on
Wednesday, Fox took issue with what it said were serious flaws
in the process that led to the minister saying she was “minded”
to refer the deal for a full investigation.

While Fox said it would welcome a thorough regulatory
review, it questioned the government’s analysis of Murdoch’s
influence on the media market, saying the circulation of his
newspapers had fallen and they were now held in a separate
company.

It also rejected any suggestion Fox had a weaker record than
Sky when it came to broadcasting standards and said it had
learnt from the mistakes made in the past, when Murdoch’s
British newspaper arm admitted that some journalists at the News
of the World had hacked into phones.

“Twenty First Century Fox takes compliance matters extremely
seriously and is proud of the transformation of its corporate
governance and of the arrangements it has put in place since
that time,” it said in the letter.

Fox said it would welcome a decision whether to refer the
bid to regulators as soon as possible, adding it was prepared to
begin working with the regulatory bodies at the earliest
opportunity

($1 = 0.8228 pounds)



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