Rupert Murdoch's bid to add Sky to media empire attracts regulatory scrutiny

Rupert Murdoch's bid to add Sky, the European satellite giant, to his global media empire received a setback yesterday as the UK authorities asked regulators to further examine whether the $15-billion deal would give the Murdoch family too much control over the country's media.

The announcement came as part of a split decision on the bid by Murdoch's 21st Century Fox to take over the 61-per cent of Sky that it did not already own. According to commentators, Murdoch and his family are likely to come under increased pressure with a lengthy and potentially intrusive review by the UK's competition authority. However, this will relieve them from going through some regulatory procedures.

The authorities ruled that Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, and other company executives were ''fit and proper'' to hold broadcasting licenses in the UK, even as they concluded that the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News had revealed ''significant corporate failures.''

''It's both good and bad news for 21st Century Fox,'' said Martin Moore, director of the Center for the Study of Media, Communication and Power at King's College London, The New York Times reported.

Welcoming the ''fit and proper'' decision, 21st Century Fox said it was disappointed the UK government still had reservations about its potential influence over the local media industry.

Meanwhile, UK's media secretary, Karen Bradley said she was persuaded that Twenty-First Century Fox's bid could give the Murdoch family excessive influence over the media, after regulator Ofcom assessed the impact of the deal.

"The proposed entity would have the third largest total reach of any news provider - lower only than the BBC and ITN - and would, uniquely, span news coverage on television, radio, in newspapers and online," Bradley said, Reuters reported.

She said she would take a final decision on 14 July, giving Fox two weeks to address her concerns.