Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is expected to refer 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion bid to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not own to media regulator Ofcom on public interest grounds this week, despite a dispute with Fox over Rupert Murdoch’s influence.
A Government letter to Fox last week explaining why Bradley was ‘minded’ to refer the bid to Ofcom contained information Fox said was false.
The letter claimed the Murdoch Family Trust ‘has a 15 per cent shareholding in Sky… which owns Sky News’.
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But Fox pointed out that, while the trust owns 39 per cent of Fox, which itself has a 39 per cent stake in Sky – home to Game Of Thrones – it does not have any direct shareholding in Sky.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to say if it still stood by its claim.
The Government also said it had received a report from the Media Reform Coalition and Avaaz pressure groups, on which its decision was partly based.
But Fox also disputes that report’s view that ‘the merged entity would effectively become the largest newspaper provider… and the second largest provider of radio news’.
The DCMS said it would make an announcement on the deal this week.