United Kingdom probe into Fox-Sky deal to assess Murdoch influence

Sky takeover bid inquiry to assess potential influence on Sky News

CMA details scope of Fox-Sky investigation in issues statement

"We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we've made come through", said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch.

Sky's subscriber base swelled by a 160,000 new customers in the three months to late September, up 51 percent on a year earlier, it said in a results update. The fantasy series is now the most-watched ever shown on Sky.

On a constant currency basis, Sky reported a 5% year-on-year increase in revenues at £3.3 billion (US$4.4 billion).

The London-listed group has exclusive rights to United States broadcasting giant HBO's television catalogue, which includes the current seventh season of the award-winning show.

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Shareholder advisory groups - including Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), Glass Lewis and Pirc - have called on investors to vote against his re-election at Sky's annual general meeting and also to rebel against what they claim are potentially "excessive" pay plans.

A previous attempt by Fox to buy Sky was abandoned in the midst of the phone-hacking scandal in 2011.

Sky confirmed in its annual report last month that chief executive Jeremy Darroch's total annual pay packet more than trebled to £16.3m (€18.1m) a year ago despite annual profits being hit by the cost of broadcasting live Premier League football.

Meanwhile the takeover of Sky is being held up by a United Kingdom investigation into the proposed deal worth £11.7 billion.

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Culture Secretary Karen Bradley chose to disregard Ofcom's judgement that the deal should only be referred to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns about its impact on media plurality, additionally opting to refer the bid on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards.

The CMA will seek to prevent "any one media owner, or voice, having too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

The CMA said it would explore the extent to which the Murdoch family would be able to "control or influence editorial and commercial decisions" at Sky News if the takeover went through.

In assessing media plurality it said that it will look for views and evidence on the current level of media plurality in the United Kingdom, whether and the extent to which the deal reduces that level of media plurality, and whether the remaining level of plurality of persons with control of media enterprises would be sufficient.

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