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NY Times: Murdochs' Sky Purchase Shadowed by Fox News Scandal

Image: NY Times: Murdochs' Sky Purchase Shadowed by Fox News Scandal
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 22 Apr 2017 01:29 PM

The Murdoch family's hopes of taking control of British satellite TV giant Sky are once again being shadowed by a scandal, amid calls for British regulators to investigate whether the ongoing sexual harassment allegations at Fox News Channel will hinder the takeover attempt.

Friday, British officials ordered that a regulatory review of 21st Century Fox's plan to take over control of the 60.9 percent of Sky shares it does not already hold be postponed until after the June 8 national election, reports The New York Times. 

However, the Murdochs' critics say the Fox News harassment scandal, and the resulting ousters of its CEO, Roger Ailes, and its top star, Bill O'Reilly, is also coming into play while the Office of Communications (Ofcom) ponders whether 21st Century Fox is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting license.

Ofcom is also reviewing how the proposed purchase will affect competition in the British media industry.

The upcoming election is the official reason for the delay, The Times reports, but other communications indicate that the sex scandal, coupled with the 2011 News Corp phone hacking controversy, may also be coming into play.

Rupert Murdoch closed the tabloid News of the World in 2011, after complaints surfaced that it had eavesdropped on the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, and a 13-year-old murder victim.

Last week, attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing Wendy Walsh, a psychologist who has accused O'Reilly of propositioning her, wrote to Ofcom that "the similarities between the current harassment scandal and the phone-hacking scandal reveal the company’s approach to business and management — a lack of oversight, intervention, and decency."

In another letter, Color of Change, an activist group promoting racial justice, accused 21st Century Fox of having a "deep-seated culture of systemic racial and sexual abuse.”

Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, a media and telecom industry research company in London, told The Times it is “inconceivable” that O'Reilly's dismissal was not connected to the proposed Sky takeover.

However, she and other analysts believe the Murdoch family's proposal will be approved, especially since James Murdoch serves as both chief executive of 21st Century Fox and Sky chairman.

Ofcom will provide its report to Karen Bradley, the British minister for culture, media,and sport, who then decide if the agreement should be approved.

21st Century Fox has said it remains confident the transaction will be approved, and that it "takes its regulatory and compliance obligations seriously," but Sky refused to comment.

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The Murdoch family's hopes of taking control of British satellite TV giant Sky are once again being shadowed by a scandal, amid calls for British regulators to investigate whether the ongoing sexual harassment allegations at Fox News Channel will hinder the takeover...
New York Times, Murdoch, Fox News, Sky, TV
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2017-29-22
Saturday, 22 Apr 2017 01:29 PM
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