On 9 December 2016, Sky Plc announced that it had received an approach from 21st Century Fox to acquire the 61% share of Sky Plc which it does not already own.
On 16 March 2017, the Secretary of State (Karen Bradley) confirmed in a statement to Parliament, that she would be intervening in the proposed merger under the Enterprise Act 2002, so that issues raised under the two specified public interest grounds mentioned in her Intervention Notice - namely the effect of the merger on media plurality and on the parties’ commitment to broadcasting standards could be fully considered. Her Intervention Notice required Ofcom to submit a Phase 1 report on the public interest considerations raised by the Secretary of State.
Ofcom’s Phase 1 report was received on 20 June 2017 and published by DCMS on 29 June. The Secretary of State (Karen Bradley) carefully considered the Phase 1 report from Ofcom and representations from the parties to the merger and third parties.
Following this, the Secretary of State (Karen Bradley) confirmed in a Statement to Parliament on 29 June that she was minded-to refer the merger for a further more detailed Phase 2 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on media plurality grounds only. After careful consideration of representations received and having considered further advice from Ofcom, she announced on 14 September that she had reached a final decision to refer on both grounds and issued her formal referral to the CMA for the Phase 2 investigation on 20 September 2017.
From the point of referral, the CMA initially had 24 weeks to investigate the merger and provide advice to the Secretary of State . On 23 January, alongside publishing its provisional findings report on the media public interests, the CMA confirmed it would be extending the deadline for the Phase 2 report by eight weeks to 1 May.
The Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) received the CMA’s final Phase 2 report on 1 May. He published this on 4 June, announcing that he accepted the CMA’s recommendations on the public interest grounds and outlining the process for consideration of potential remedies.
On 12 July, the Secretary of State (Jeremy Wright), announced the conclusions a statutory consultation on proposed undertakings by 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company to divest Sky News to Disney. His Statement set out decision made by his predecessor (Matt Hancock) on 9 July to accept the undertakings with some clarificatory change to Disney’s undertakings and changes to the brand licensing agreement to address issues raised by respondents.
A notice of acceptance of final undertakings has also been published on 12 July 2018 along with the final undertakings from 21st Century Fox and Disney and a number of associated documents
The publication of the undertakings marked the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case.