A changing media landscape? Olivia Crawford delves further into Sky’s threat to shut down Sky News.
Issues concerning the ownership of Sky hit headlines again this week, with the corporation threatening to shut down Sky News if 21st Century Fox’s £11.7bn bid to take full control of the broadcaster is blocked on media plurality grounds. The statement was made in a submission to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who are currently investigating the bid. The CMA is especially focused on assessing how the takeover would affect UK media and broadcasting standards.
In its submission to the CMA, Sky warned that should the merger or any other corporate opportunities be hindered, they may be forced to reconsider the future of Sky News in its current form. According to the corporation, the well-respected Sky News actually, and somewhat surprisingly, loses Sky tens of millions a year.
Why It’s Important?
This is the latest development in the long-running saga over the ownership of Sky, which dates back to 2010 when News Corporation first made a failed bid for complete ownership of BskyB. The company was forced then to back down following significant criticism from politicians and the public in light of the phone hacking scandal.
Central to all this is the fact that Sky News is a respected news organisation, which employs hundreds of journalists and is the main competitor to BBC News. Should Sky News indeed be axed, it has the potential to hugely alter the British media landscape.
The possibility of Sky News closing has been debated amongst analysts, with BBC media editor Amol Rajan stating that he believed it to be a “credible threat”. The Radio Times highlighted that it is not an illogical threat, as Fox bosses have very little knowledge of Sky News, except that its loses millions of pounds a year.
What’s The Reaction Been?
Many commentators have expressed concern and sadness about the threat. Former Deputy Political Editor of Sky News, Joey Jones, wrote an impassioned article in The Guardian, decrying that “axing Sky News would be retrograde”, adding that “it’s earned its place in the political landscape”. Even former Labour leader Ed Miliband offered his opinion on twitter, accusing Sky of blackmailing the CMA.
‘Could Sky News really shut down its news channel?’ – The Week
The CMA needs to complete its six-month investigation into the varying implications for the British media of a Fox takeover.
Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, made a strong statement on the issue emphasising that the final decision will “be based on evidence”. She went on to comment, “I have to be mindful of the fact there’s two parties who would like to merge for good commercial reasons, while at the same time… ensuring the public interest tests are met to make sure we end up with a media that works for the country”.
Some degree of enlightenment concerning Sky’s ownership and the future of Sky News will come in December, when the CMA is set to publish its provisional findings. However, it will not be until the final report, published in February, that we will know for certain.