The Competition and Markets Authority said 21st Century Fox’s bid to take control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own was not in the public interest due to concerns about media plurality.
The CMA’s investigation into the deal found it would give the Murdoch family trust, which controls Fox and News Corp, the publisher of the Sun and the Times, “too much control over news providers in the UK across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”.
The investigation cleared the deal on the grounds of Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards – despite the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World and allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News.
The CMA has set out three options for the deal that should be considered in a new consultation: that it is blocked, that Sky News is spun off or sold or that Sky News is insulated from the influence of the Murdoch family trust.
The former Labour leader Ed Miliband, a vitriolic Murdoch critic, said any options other than blocking the deal give the Murdochs a “back door” to get the deal they want.