21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) proposed acquisition of the remaining 61% in Sky, PLC (LSE: SKY), is now on hold pending a Phase 2 investigation on the grounds of media plurality. The concern is that a full takeover of Europe’s leading cable provider would give Murdoch the 3rd largest total reach of any news provider in the U.K., behind only BBC & ITN, and in turn provide him with the ability to influence the overall news agenda and political processes. The proposed deal, valued at $15.2 Billion, would greatly enhance 21st Century Fox’s paid TV position in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Italy.
Howie Long-Short opines: This has been in the works since before the phone hacking scandal. Don’t bet against Darth Vader. After politicians passed the buck to the regulators, I think this finally gets done. Fox is certainly desperate for it to close. After it failed in 2011, and then their lost bid for HBO, the clock is ticking as they try to keep up with the likes of Netflix and gain control of a widely-distributed premium network.
Fan Marino says: Considering a former Prime Minister has expressly stated Murdoch had tried to get him to change policy, and considering that Murdoch is now looking to expand influence by taking over one of the country’s most influential broadcasting companies, fans of a free press can only hope this transaction does not go through.