Recognising the importance of this matter, the Secretary of State always intended to inform Parliament at the first available opportunity on the progress of the take-over and her role in relation to it, as events take place. Given the timing of the notification this is not possible today but she will do so in a statement on Monday. In the meantime, she has written to the speakers and leaders of both the House of Commons and House of Lords, the chair of the commons select committee (CMS), and the shadow culture secretary - these letters have been laid in the parliament library and are public.
The following statement provides an update on the proposed merger.
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Karen Bradley said:
“I can confirm that formal notification for the proposed merger of Sky and 21st Century Fox was lodged with the European Commission today and I have, today, written to the parties to inform them that I am ‘minded to’ issue a European Intervention Notice on the basis that I have concerns that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to this proposed merger that warrant further investigation.
“To be clear - I have not taken a final decision on intervention at this stage. In line with the guidance that applies to my quasi-judicial role I am inviting written representations from the parties and will aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger within ten working days of today’s notification.
“In January I made clear that I would make this quasi-judicial decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial and as quickly as possible with all relevant information in front of me. To enable this I instructed my officials to commence work to analyse the relevance of the public interest considerations to the merger and to consider the available evidence.
“On the basis of this preparatory work I have issued a ‘minded to’ letter to the parties on two of the public interest grounds specified in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002.
“The first public interest ground on which I am minded to intervene is media plurality. That is, specifically, the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises serving audiences in the UK.
“The second public interest ground on which I am minded to intervene is commitment to broadcasting standards. This ground relates to the need for persons carrying on media enterprises, and for those with control of such enterprises, to have a genuine commitment to attaining broadcasting standards objectives.
“This is not an announcement of my final decision in relation to intervention, but an indication of what I am presently minded to do.
“Before I make my final decision and in line with statutory guidance, I have invited further representations in writing from the parties, and have given them until 5pm on the 8th March to provide these. I plan for my final decision to be given week commencing 13th March.
“I also want to be clear on what this means in terms of the overall process. Any decision to intervene is not the end of the matter. Instead it would recognise these public interest considerations may be relevant to the merger and will trigger action by Ofcom to assess and report to me on them and for the Competition and Markets Authority to report on jurisdiction. There would then be a further decision-making stage for me to undertake, in light of these reports. But we are not at that stage yet.
“As I said at the outset, I will aim to take the final decision on whether to issue a European Intervention Notice within the ten working days set out in the guidance and will report to the House to notify Parliament of this decision.”
Notes to Editors:
- Sky Plc announced on Friday 9 December that it had received an approach from 21 Century Fox (21CF) to acquire the 61% share of Sky Plc which it does not already own.
- A final decision will be taken within the 10 working day deadline - 17th March 2017.
- The full ‘minded to intervene’ letter issued to the parties will be published on the DCMS website shortly after 2pm and can be found here.
- For further information please contact the DCMS press office on 020 7211 2210