Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The U.K.'s competition regulator announced Tuesday that 21st Century Fox's $15 billion bid to take a majority stake in Britain's Sky News was not in the public's best interest due to media plurality concerns, making a rejection of the bid likely.

Why it matters: U.K. regulators have been investigating this deal, and have been putting off an official response, for months. For a long time, sources at Fox thought the deal would go through, giving the new potential owner of Fox's international assets, Walt Disney Co. majority ownership of Sky's broadcast and streaming platforms.

Regulators say the recommendation is "not because of a lack of a genuine commitment to meeting broadcasting standards in the U.K.," which is significant, given that there were concerns about whether Fox would be considered "fit and proper" owners of Sky as the network battled sexual harassment and editorial scandals in the U.S.

  • They did however, note that while there were issues with the compliance arrangements at Fox News when it was broadcasting its unedited simulcast international feed into the U.K., "this did not outweigh the detailed and effective policies and procedures that Fox has in place in relation to its U.K. focused channels."

Citing fair competition, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal would give the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) "too much control" over news providers in the U.K. and therefore "too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda."

  • Murdoch-owned news outlets in the UK currently reach nearly a third of U.K.'s population, regulators argue, "and have a combined share of the public’s news consumption that is significantly greater than all other news providers, except the BBC and ITN."
  • Executives have previously said that Fox's takeover bid of Sky, regardless of outcome, would not affect its potential merger with Disney.

What's next? The CMA will take comments and will consider them before the its report is finalized and provided to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by May 1, 2018, when he will make the final decision on the proposed deal.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Facebook boycott organizers share details on their Zuckerberg meeting

Facebook is in the midst of the largest ad boycott in its history, with nearly 1,000 brands having stopped paid advertising in July because they feel Facebook hasn't done enough to remove hate speech from its namesake app and Instagram.

Axios Re:Cap spoke with the boycott's four main organizers, who met on Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives, to learn why they organized the boycott, what they took from the meeting, and what comes next.

Boycott organizers slam Facebook following tense virtual meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civil rights leaders blasted Facebook's top executives shortly after speaking with them on Tuesday, saying that the tech giant's leaders "failed to meet the moment" and were "more interested in having a dialogue than producing outcomes."

Why it matters: The likely fallout from the meeting is that the growing boycott of Facebook's advertising platform, which has reached nearly 1000 companies in less than a month, will extend longer than previously anticipated, deepening Facebook's public relations nightmare.

Steve Scalise PAC invites donors to fundraiser at Disney World

Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s PAC is inviting lobbyists to attend a four-day “Summer Meeting” at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida, all but daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus and contribute $10,000 to his leadership PAC.

Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmakers to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear. The invite for the “Summer Meeting” for the Scalise Leadership Fund, obtained by Axios, makes no mention of COVID-19.