Sky could sacrifice Sky News to ensure Fox merger
While the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigates the potential merger with Fox, Sky has warned that it may be forced to close down Sky News if it obstructs the approval of the deal. In a submission to the CMA last month, which was released this week, Sky told the regulator that it would “would likely be prompted to review” its position “in the event that the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities available in relation to Sky’s broader business”.
Sky warned it would be forced to consider the action if shareholders also vetoed the deal. “The CMA should not in its assessment simply assume the ‘continued provision of Sky News’ and its current contribution to plurality, “absent the Transaction,” it noted in its statement.
The competition watchdog is currently eight weeks into its 24 week investigation, which centres on whether the two companies would “operate against the specified public interests.” Broadcasting standards and media plurality (whether it presents different viewpoints during bulletins) are particular focuses.
Just this week, communications regulator Ofcom ruled that two Fox News shows, hosted separately by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, had breached a number of broadcasting regulations before the channel was removed from UK screens in August. The breaches are a concern because should the deal be approved, the Murdochs’ would control the Times, Sunday Times, The Sun, Wall Street Journal and Sky News, putting them in control of much of the UK’s media.
Despite its size and influence, Sky News is a loss-making venture. The channel, which has been on the air for almost 30 years and reaches more than 107 million homes, continues to lose tens of millions each year. However, BBC News reports that it would likely prefer to sell the business before resorting to shutting it down.
Source: Competition and Markets Authority (PDF)