UK makes new request over Murdoch’s Sky takeover bid

The British government on Tuesday requested the country's media watchdog provide further details on the proposed takeover of pan-European satellite TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

The move by the government's digital, culture, media and sport ministry comes as minister Karen Bradley weighs up whether to refer the bid for an in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority regulator.

After assessing a large number of submissions relating to the deal, Bradley's department said "a number of these raise new evidence and/or comment on the Ofcom assessment".

As a result, the government has asked media watchdog Ofcom "to advise on a number of points arising from these representations".

One of the submissions challenging the deal came from a group of cross-party MPs, including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable who said there were "serious issues yet to be resolved".

Campaign group Avaaz has called for the competition authority to conduct a deeper probe into the takeover bid.

In its earlier assessment, Ofcom warned the deal would increase Murdoch's influence over the British news agenda and the political process.

The proposed £11.4-billion (12.6-billion euro, $14.8 billion) takeover would see 21st Century Fox entertainment group snap up the 61-percent of Sky it does not already own.

The government has given Ofcom a deadline of August 25 to respond to its new request.

- Fox News lawsuit -

Britain's latest move comes as 21st Century Fox's US television network, Fox News, faces allegations of fabricating "fake news" to advance President Donald Trump's agenda.

A New York lawsuit filed last week by former Fox News contributor, Rod Wheeler, alleges he was misquoted in an article which sought to promote claims a murdered Democrat staffer was the source of leaked emails during last year's US election campaign.

The leaks have been attributed to Russian hackers by the US intelligence community and Fox retracted the article after a week on May 23.

The television network has denied Wheeler's accusations and the White House rejected the allegation that Trump reviewed the article before publication.

The British government has not detailed whether the allegations against 21st Century Fox's US operations were included in its points raised with Ofcom.

Murdoch's previous attempt to buy pay-tv group Sky, previously known as BSkyB, failed in 2011 due to a phone-hacking scandal at his now-defunct News of the World tabloid newspaper.

His current bid has already been approved by regulators in Austria, Germany, Ireland and Italy as well as the European Union, but not yet in Britain.

21st Century Fox is one of the world's largest entertainment companies with a vast portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay-TV and satellite assets across six continents.

Sky broadcasts a similar offering, including the 24-hour Sky News channel, and also provides internet and telephone services.

In late 2014, Sky changed its name from BSkyB after buying Sky Italia and a majority holding in Sky Deutschland.

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