Sky/21ST Century Fox: Merger

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 16th March 2017.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 11:38 am, 16th March 2017

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I will address his final point first—the issue of Leveson—as I did last time I was at the Dispatch Box on this matter. As he will know, the consultation we launched, which closed in January, is subject to judicial review. I am therefore unable to comment on the consultation, or any aspects of it, with regard to the Leveson inquiry. I hope he will understand that I cannot make further comment about that.

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman welcomes the decision to refer this merger, but it is important that I make a couple of points in relation to his questions. He asked whether the “broadcasting standards” element could include looking at corporate governance. I was clear in my original “minded to” letter and in the statement I made to the House on 6 March that corporate governance was one of the issues on which I was referring the matter to Ofcom, and therefore I would expect it to look at that. Clearly, however, Ofcom is an independent regulator. I have made the decision to refer to Ofcom, but it is for Ofcom to decide what evidence it wants to look at. It is open to look at whatever evidence it feels is appropriate to enable it to make its decision.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the fit and proper test. I very carefully considered the representations that were made, but it is important that it is the independent regulator that looks at fit and proper and the Government who have grounds on which to intervene under the Enterprise Act. Those two things have to be kept separate. The Government should not step into the area where, quite rightly, the regulator should sit.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether Ofcom has the time, resources and ability to gather the evidence that it needs. I have been assured by Ofcom that it has the time to do this and the ability to gather the evidence it needs, and I now look forward to letting it get on with the job.