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Murdoch: Sky deal would be ‘positive’ for Brexit

James Murdoch has urged 21st Century Fox’s takeover of Sky to not be the victim of regulation, stressing the importance of business to a post-Brexit UK.

Fox CEO James Murdoch

Fox CEO James Murdoch

Speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention yesterday, the 21st Century Fox CEO delivered a talk based around the theme of ‘the challenges of a shifting media landscape’ in which he highlighted the importance of scale in today’s media business.

Speaking after the government confirmed that the planned £18.5 billion (US$25 billion) Sky takeover would be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority on the grounds of both broadcasting standards and media plurality, he also claimed the deal could bring economic benefits to the country.

“Inward investment in the UK creative economy, and the positive signal it sends to companies around the world, is more important than ever as the UK prepares to chart a course outside the EU,” said Murdoch.

He claimed the “soft power” of the UK’s creative industry would be “a big part of that story” ahead of Britain’s April 2019 divorce from European Union.

“If the UK truly is ‘open for business’ post-Brexit, we look forward to moving through the regulatory review process and this transformative transaction for the UK creative sector becoming an affirmation of that claim,” he added.

“We’re eager to provide Sky with access to the resources, reach, and creative sparks needed to keep pace against a new breed of competitors that now include some of the largest companies in the world, but none of whom have the local depth of investment and commitment to the UK and to Europe.”

Murdoch used his RTS speech to stress Sky and Fox’s past achievements, but added: “We will still need the freedom to take risks and the strength to compete that only comes from global scale.”

“Scale provides the confidence to invest strategically, take risks, and support the development of new technologies and innovation – critical attributes in this dynamic period.”

Earlier in the day, Sky said it would continue to engage constructively in the process as the Competition and Markets Authority takes six months to investigate the Sky-Fox merger.

At the end of that 24-week period, culture secretary Karen Bradley will come to a final decision on whether the merger will proceed, including any conditions that should apply in order for it to do so.