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Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Sky hits more obstacles

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RUPERT MURDOCH’S penchant for mass-market media has made him billions of dollars. It also gets in the way of empire-building. In 2011 News Corp’s bid to take full ownership of Sky, a European pay-TV giant, fell apart amid public rancour over phone hacking by journalists at the News of the World, one of his tabloids (since closed). Now a renewed Murdoch family takeover attempt for Sky, a bid of £11.7bn ($15.2bn) by 21st Century Fox, faces yet more scrutiny over concerns about alleged scurrilous reporting at Fox News, Mr Murdoch’s American cable-news channel.

On August 8th Karen Bradley, Britain’s culture secretary, asked Ofcom, the media regulator which had already reviewed the bid, to take another look to determine whether 21st Century Fox meets Britain’s broadcasting standards. Ms Bradley’s request followed fresh complaints about Fox News from members of parliament, including Ed Miliband, the former leader of the opposition Labour Party, and from activists who have lobbied against the deal. Sky’s shares fell slightly on fears that the acquisition might not happen, even though other European regulators have signed off.

The latest objections concerned a lawsuit filed in America on August 1st alleging that Fox News had aired a false story about the 2016 murder of a Democratic Party staffer, Seth Rich, with the knowledge of the White House. The alleged aim was to divert attention from the investigation of Donald Trump’s possible links to Russia’s government. Fox denies the allegations.

British critics of the takeover fear Sky’s news channel could come to resemble Fox News. Britain’s tight regulation of broadcasting should prevent that, but it is unclear what the Murdochs are willing to do to assuage such worries. Mr Murdoch returned to oversee Fox News after the departure of its long-time boss, Roger Ailes in July 2016, following multiple allegations of sexual harassment (Mr Ailes died this year). Since then it has continued to carry notably favourable coverage of Mr Trump.

Losing the Sky deal would be a huge blow. Fox, a leading supplier of TV content internationally, already owns 39% of Sky, a leading distributor of TV in Europe. By buying the other 61%, the Murdochs would take full control of a pay-TV firm with a growing customer base of 22.5m in Europe (in contrast to the shrinking numbers watching pay-TV in America). By marrying content and distribution, the combined company could better compete with firms such as Netflix and Amazon, two online giants, with a direct-to-consumer streaming-video service in future. As if to rub it in, Disney, a competitor unencumbered by tabloids or politicised news channels, this week said it would launch two such streaming services by 2019.

 

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Julio Marchi ©

Publisher / Editor at BS News & Media Services
A free thinker, not labelled as anything, not associated with any party, not part of any group or engaged with any religion... A simple guy tired of the nowadays bullshit who decided to promote more serious debates about what is really happening hoping to bring back intelligence to the superficial and shallow news & headlines that unfortunately took over the existing media scene.
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