Sky takeover probe to focus on media plurality, broadcasting standards

Sky takeover probe to focus on media plurality, broadcasting standards

Sky takeover probe to focus on media plurality, broadcasting standards

It reported that the first series of home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, becoming its highest ever rated Original commission and Game of Thrones became the most watched series ever on Sky.

Shareholders of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, have voted to reappoint James Murdoch as chairman of Europe's largest pay-TV broadcaster.

However, this was an improvement on past year, when more than 50% opposed Mr Murdoch's reappointment.

The AGM followed a robust trading update from Sky, which said the popularity of Game Of Thrones helped Sky post surging revenues and customer numbers.

In response, Martin Gilbert, Sky's deputy chairman, pointed out that Sky's board had formed an independent committee to evaluate the terms of 21st Century Fox's takeover, which he said had met 11 times since the takeover approach was tabled in December past year.

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Its core earnings rose 11pc to £582m.

Mr Murdoch is chief executive of Fox, which is attempting to seize control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

Ahead of the meeting some shareholders had said they were planning to oppose Murdoch's re-election because they did not believe he could effectively represent independent investors as he is also chief executive of Twenty-First Century Fox.

Sky said it added 160,000 new customers in its first quarter, which marks a 51% rise on a year earlier.

Mr Darroch said the group's investment in production was "delivering", with customer viewing to Sky pay channels up 10% year-on-year.

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This week the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) outlined how it will examine the deal and the impact on media plurality and broadcasting standards in the United Kingdom and invited submissions for the six-month investigation.

Mr Darroch said it was a strong start to the new financial year: "Against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on United Kingdom television advertising, we were particularly pleased with our own EBITDA growth of 15% in our established business".

However, investors voted more than 78 percent in favour of his re-election at an annual general meeting at Sky's London headquarters later on Thursday.

In September, UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley referred Fox's £11.7B takeover bid for Sky to the CMA for review on the grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards.

The CMA is required to report to Bradley with its recommendations within six months of opening the investigation, after which the culture secretary will decide on whether or not the takeover can proceed.

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"Once the investigation is complete, we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision".

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