Rupert Murdoch’s Sky bid provisionally blocked by regulator

Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn bid to take full control of Sky has been provisionally blocked by the UK regulator.

The Competition and Markets Authority said21st Century Fox’s bid to take control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own is not in the public interest due to concerns about media plurality.

The deal would have seen the Murdoch’s take control of UK news assets including Sky News, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun newspapers as well as TalkSport.

The CMA cleared the deal over whether the Murdochs would maintain a genuine commitment to meeting broadcasting standards in the UK.

Its provisional ruling, published on Tuesday, said the deal would give the Murdochs “too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”.

Its findings mean the deal is now unlikely to go through without Fox and Sky agreeing to remedies, such a Sky News being spun off from Sky or being insulated from potential influence by the Murdoch family.

The CMA’s announcement is the latest stage of the long-running saga of whether Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James, will take over Sky.

It began in December 2016 when Fox announced it was bidding for the 61% of Sky it did not already own and has taken multiple twists since then.

The deal was referred to the CMA for an investigation last September by Karen Bradley, the then culture secretary, after an investigation by Ofcom, the media regulator.

Ofcom also raised concerns about media plurality but said it did not recommend blocking the deal on the grounds of Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards.

The CMA’s investigation has continued despite Fox announcing the sale of most of its entertainment assets – including its 39% stake in Sky – to Disney.

The CMA will now consult on its provisional findings and deliver its final report to the government by 1 May.