British Regulator Faces Court Review Over Fox-Sky Decision

Variety | 2/14/2018 | Robert Mitchell
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British media regulator Ofcom will have to defend its conclusion that 21st Century Fox would be a “fit and proper” owner of pan-European satcaster Sky in court. A British high court judge has approved a legal challenge, brought against Ofcom last September by activist group Avaaz, that questioned the soundness of the regulator’s decision.

The case concerns Ofcom’s report, submitted to the British government last June, which concluded that it could see no reason to reject Fox’s proposed $15-billion takeover of Sky on the grounds that the Murdochs would not be a “fit and proper” owner. Avaaz accused Ofcom of not carrying out a thorough investigation of Fox News content or corporate governance failures across the Murdoch empire and clearing the way for the merger too easily.

Avaaz - Intent - Intervention - Aug - Letter

Avaaz declared its intent to seek legal intervention in an Aug. 21 letter to Ofcom last year which requested the regulator withdraw its June report, saying it should “reconsider the question of Sky’s fitness post-merger” and claiming factual errors had been made in Ofcom’s assessment of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox. Avaaz argued that Ofcom’s test of what constitutes “fit and proper” was too narrow.

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Group - Documents - High - Court - Justice

The group then filed legal documents at the British High Court of Justice on Sept. 29. Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks said in a statement at the time: “Repeated, large-scale scandals in the Murdoch empire indicate that something is very rotten at the core of their businesses. Ofcom didn’t dig deep enough before declaring the Murdochs fit to own even more of our media.”

A judge has now ruled that Avaaz’s case against Ofcom “raises important points of principle and should be heard rapidly,” rejecting the regulator’s contention that the suit was without merit.

Spokesperson - Ofcom

A spokesperson for Ofcom said of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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