Fox Sky bid - watch this space

THERE HAS been a surprising turn of events around the Murdoch bid to take over all of broadcaster Sky (see www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1708sky.html). Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced in mid-September she was "minded to" refer the bid to an inquiry by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) on the grounds of the Murdoch family's commitment to broadcasting standards.

While a referral to the CMA on the grounds of "media plurality" was anticipated, such a move based on "broadcasting standards" grounds was unexpected and is unprecedented. The Murdochs can expect an inquiry of up to six months, with "very tough remedies" prescribed at the end of it as a pre-condition of the takeover being approved, according to one analyst.

Shares in Sky fell nearly 2 per cent following the announcement. Bradley is expected to confirm whether she will refer the bid to the CMA shortly after the Freelance goes to press. Watch this space.