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Sky plc's £11.7 billion ($15.4 billion) takeover by Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report moved slowly into the latest phase of U.K. regulatory delay on Tuesday, Oct. 10, when the Competition and Markets Authority published an issues statement setting out the scope of its investigation.

Calling for submissions on Fox's "genuine commitment" to broadcasting standards and whether the acquisition by Fox of the more than 60% of Sky plc it does not already own will reduce media plurality and access to differing voices, the CMA also said it contacted Ofcom, the government's separate media regulator, to ask for information and factual and technical assistance.

Both Ofcom and the CMA had previously looked at the bid, but it was referred back to them in September, when the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, said she wanted a more thorough look at corporate governance failures at Fox News, which has come under scrutiny following a number of scandals. Fox News was pulled from satellite broadcaster Sky in August after the parent group concluded that it was no longer commercially viable to broadcast for a largely U.K.-based audience.

In Tuesday's announcement, the CMA said it is "looking for views and evidence on whether the merged entity post-transaction will have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives. In assessing this, we will consider the record of the parties' compliance with broadcasting and other applicable regulations and their broader attitude to compliance in general."

Fox has submitted two separate documents, one on media plurality and one on broadcasting standards. It said the evidence shows that there are now more sources of competition than when the issue of media plurality was looked at when it previously tried to buy Sky in 2010. It points to the role of Facebook Inc. (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report in shaping news provision and consumption, and it insisted that the takeover of Sky will "not bring news providers under common material influence."

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Its argument is that the deal is not a full combination of Sky, Fox and News Corp. (NWSA) - Get News Corporation Class A Report , the vehicle through which Murdoch owns his print media, despite the common minority holding by the Murdoch Family Trust, and that while Fox already exercises material influence over Sky, the boards of Fox and News Corp. remain separate and independent.

As for its commitment to broadcasting standards, Fox said previous investigations by Ofcom concluded there were no concerns that justified the culture secretary's decision to refer the deal to the CMA and said there are also no reasonable grounds for her to argue the takeover "operates or may be expected to operate against the public interest."

The CMA announcement also restated the deadlines for the rest of its investigation. Full provisional findings will be due in December, and a final decision will be announced by March 6. On the basis of its report, the culture secretary still has to make up her mind whether to accept its decision or override it.

The market's reaction to what was, in effect, merely an administrative announcement was limited. Sky's shares on Tuesday afternoon in London were trading at 920 pence, up 0.22% on Monday's close, while the wider FTSE 100 index was up 0.33% at 7,532.55.

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