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LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch will find out by June 29 whether he is closer to securing takeover target Sky after Britain set out a timetable to rule on whether the media mogul is a suitable owner of Europe’s biggest broadcaster.
Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox has offered $14.8 billion to buy the 61 percent of Britain’s Sky it does not already own, reigniting a row in the country over whether the Australian-born businessman has too much influence.
On Tuesday two regulators submitted their findings to the government after being asked to look into whether Fox would have too much control of the media, and whether it would be committed to upholding broadcasting standards if the deal went ahead.
Media regulator Ofcom has also examined whether executives at Fox are “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting licence.
The reports will be made public when the British government makes its statement.
The government will now decide whether to approve the deal, whether to refer it to the Competition and Markets Authority for a longer investigation or whether to engage with both parties to find solutions to their concerns.
Media Secretary Karen Bradley said she would make an initial statement by June 29. “There will then be an opportunity for representations to be made before I take a final decision,” she said.
Murdoch and his family have long coveted full control of Sky, despite the damaging failure of a previous attempt in 2011 when their British newspaper business became embroiled in a phone-hacking scandal which forced them to drop the bid.
Wary of the political fallout from the last attempt, when a public inquiry exposed close ties between Murdoch’s newspapers and leading politicians, the British government has asked its regulators to assess the impact.
Fox, which owns cable, film and pay-TV assets around the world, says the media market has changed dramatically in recent years as broadcasters face new challenges from streaming services like Netflix.
The Murdoch family has split its newspaper businesses, which own the Times and Sun papers in Britain, from its television and film assets in a move that helped pave the way for another tilt at Sky. (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Paul Sandle and Adrian Croft)