RUPERT Murdoch is attempting to consolidate his grip over British media with an £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky.
Murdoch’s mass media corporation 21st Century Fox has formally lodged the bid, which now awaits regulatory approval amid concerns that the takeover would drastically reduce the number of voices in British media.
Those fears were realised long ago. Murdoch’s empire already owns a 39.4% stake in Sky plc, which also has operations in Ireland, Italy and Germany.
Minority shareholders at the British broadcasting outfit are demanding transparency over the deal and want an investigation into exactly how it came about. Sky’s board of independent directors are in line for a huge payday if and when it goes through, while city traders have noted that the share price of £10.75 was surprisingly low.
Lachlan Murdoch, son of the 85-year-old mogul and executive chairman of 21st Century Fox said: “We are excited to bring Sky fully into 21st Century Fox. Partial ownership of Sky was not natural end state for us. Fully combining the businesses is a clear logical next step of portfolio evolution.”
A unanimous House of Commons vote thwarted Murdoch’s plans for Sky in 2011 when it was discovered that then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had backroomdealings with the Fox team. Murdoch was also under fire over the phone hacking scandal which involved The Sun and wisely chose to lay low for a while.
The Brexit vote allows Murdoch to buy Sky at a knock-off price following the plummeting of the pound. He already controls some 40% of the printed news media. By taking over Sky News he will have a direct avenue into the living rooms of millions of Brits in the UK and abroad.
Many expect him to transform the heavy loss-making channel into a British version of Fox News, an opinion based outfit which has quickly become America’s most popular satellite channel.