As mergers and takeovers go, this is a big one … on at least two continents. Sky and 21st Century Fox have agreed on a takeover deal that will see Fox pay more than $13 billion for the majority stake in Sky the company doesn’t already own.
According to the BBC, current Sky shareholders will receive about $13 in cash for each owned share, which puts the company value at about $22 billion. The purchase gives Fox News many more resources with which to work both nationally and internationally, but it also raises concerns that Rupert Murdoch, who owns 21st Century Fox, will now have far too much influence in Britain because Murdoch also owns The Sun and The Times.
These concerns mean, though the deal is done, it may not quite pass muster. Britain’s Culture Secretary has some time yet to determine whether this takeover bid crosses the line between public access and the public good. While she could ask for further oversight on the deal, it doesn’t look, at least at this time, that any real concerns will be raised.
Some in British government disagree. Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson called for more oversight, calling for government leaders to conduct more due diligence, “… this is a big call … The government needs to decide whose side it’s on…” Watson said the “sides” in this issue are the people and the powerful. At this point, the people don’t seem terribly worried about the issue.
So, is this a case of playing politics or is it really a situation in which the best interests of the British people are being overlooked to push through a major corporate deal?
Those questions are being asked, and they’re being scoffed at. As you can imagine, supporters and detractors have differing, in fact, contested, narratives describing the action. The one to win the public on this will be the side that most successfully translates their narrative into language the “people” want to understand. That is a narrative that hits them where they live and connects with their kitchen table politics.
Staged as one big media company buying a not quite as big media company really doesn’t raise too many eyebrows. Insiders believe the fact that Murdoch already owns two major print publications and will now own a British broadcaster presents problems, but these are not the kind of problems a British people – who just passed Brexit – will pay much mind.