Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
Formal notice of the Secretary of State’s acceptance of final undertakings given by 21st Century Fox Inc and the Walt Disney Company pursuant to paragraph 9 of schedule 2 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (Protection of Legitimate Interests) Order 2003.
Detail of feedback received
The consultation received 5 representations over the consultation period. The Department has published these on Monday 9 July 2018, and the Secretary of State will announce a response to the consultation in due course.
On 1 May 2018, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, received the CMA report on the public interest considerations raised by the proposed merger. On 5 June 2018, he wrote to 21CF and Sky issuing his public interest decisions and made a statement to Parliament as well as published the CMA’s report. He accepts the CMA’s view that the merger may be expected to operate against the public interest on grounds of media plurality but that the merger may not be expected to operate against the public interest on grounds of the parties’ commitment to broadcasting standards.
The Secretary of State was then required to consider what action would be reasonable and practicable to remedy, mitigate or prevent adverse public interest effects which may be expected to result from the proposed merger. Having considered the CMA’s assessment of different remedy options, the Secretary of State found, in line with the CMA’s conclusions, that the divestiture of Sky News to The Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) or to another suitable purchaser could potentially remedy the public interest issues. However, he was clear that would only be the case if the divestiture remedy is designed in a way that ensures its long-term effectiveness, and that there were a number of issues with the undertakings previously offered by 21CF.
Following the successful conclusion of discussions between DCMS officials, 21CF and Disney, and the resolution of these issues, the Secretary of State has today published updated undertakings offered by 21CF to divest Sky News to Disney, alongside new undertakings offered by Disney.
In the Secretary of State’s view, the undertakings now offered by 21CF and Disney provide significant protections for the long-term future and editorial independence of Sky News. As a result, the Secretary of State considers the undertakings to be reasonable and practicable to remedy, mitigate or prevent the adverse plurality public interest effects that may expected to arise as a result of the proposed merger, in an effective and proportionate manner. He proposes to accept the 21CF and Disney undertakings. Before doing so, and in line with the Act, the Secretary of State is now commencing a consultation period within which representations may be made in relation to the proposed undertakings.