Zenith CC&P Current Awareness

​Disney-Fox and the future of Sky

15 December 2017

Prof. Suzanne Rab

Walt Disney Company’s proposed purchase of 21st Century Fox has been viewed as a deal that will reshape the media landscape.  Yet despite potentially addressing the concerns that have been identified in the CMA’s public interest review of Fox’s bid to acquire the interests in Sky that it does not already own, this latest development may not make not much difference to the course of that review as matters presently stand.

Disney will acquire 21st Century Fox’s interests in Sky and Tata Sky, among other assets.  Fox has said that it expects to complete the acquisition of the Sky shares that it does not own by 30 June 2018.

Meanwhile, the CMA’s public interest review of the Fox-Sky transaction is due to report by the statutory deadline of 6 March 2018.  The CMA plans to issue its provisional findings in January.

As to plurality, the theories of harm identified by the CMA are a reduction in the range of viewpoints available to and consumed by the public; and an increase in the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust on public opinion and the political agenda.

In relation to broadcasting standards, the CMA has identified a theory of harm that there will not be a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards after the transaction.

The CMA’s review is far advanced.  It remains to be seen to what extent it will consider the Disney deal, which is itself subject to regulatory approval.  The CMA operates on the basis of what is known or reasonably likely and not on what may happen at some future date, even though this does not always match real-world realities.

That said, there do not seem to be insuperable regulatory hurdles for the Disney transaction and it should allay any residual public interest concerns with the Fox-Sky combination.

Current Awareness

By the CC&P team