On 15th December 2016 Sky announced that the "21st Century Fox Board and the Independent Committee of Sky are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended pre-conditional cash offer by 21st Century Fox for the fully diluted share capital of Sky which 21st Century Fox and its Affiliates do not already own." And that 21st Century Fox currently anticipates that the Acquisition will complete before the end of 2017.
I share the concerns about the proposed takeover and I know from the large number of emails I have received on this issue that many people feel strongly about it. Indeed, over 100,000 people have already signed the online petition.
I agree that the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport should refer the bid to Ofcom, to assess whether it would result in too much media power being concentrated in too few hands. They must also assess whether Rupert and James Murdoch are 'fit and proper persons' to run a broadcaster.
As you may be aware, when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation sought complete ownership of BSkyB five years ago the House of Commons united behind a motion calling for the bid to be withdrawn in the public interest. The concerns were not only about the serious wrongdoing being uncovered in the phone hacking scandal but about the concentration of media power and ownership in fewer hands.
Earlier this month, as soon as possible after Sky announced it had received an approach from 21st Century Fox, the Opposition asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons, forcing the Government to make a statement. The Government was rightly pressed to refer the bid to Ofcom. The Government must be prepared to stand up to powerful interests and ensure that this proposed deal is properly and independently scrutinised.
The Government has stated that any transaction will be looked at on its merits, on a case-by-case basis. I understand the frustration caused by the lack of a decision to date. The Government promised on 12 December to keep the House of Commons updated and I hope it will express its view to Parliament before Christmas.
Moreover, the Government should not cancel the vital second part of the Leveson Inquiry, which would look at questions around unlawful or improper conduct within the Murdoch empire, at exactly the moment when Rupert Murdoch is attempting once again to strengthen his hold over the UK media.
Please be assured I will continue to follow the proposed takeover closely.