Matthew Hancock, deputy minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said the government would be “scrupulously fair and impartial” in its handling of a takeover bid for Sky.
Hancock was deputising for culture minister Karen Bradley following the tabling of an urgent question by Kevin Brennan, shadow arts and heritage minister. Ms Bradley was unavailable.
Vince Cable, who was business secretary at the time of the original bid, said the issue raised big media plurality issues, while former Labour Leader Ed Miliband said it was a test for new prime minister Theresa May, who said on her appointment that she would stand up to the powerful.
The 2011 bid for Sky by the then News Corp collapsed amid the phonehacking scandal that had engulfed the company’s UK newspaper business and led to the closure of the News of the World. Proposals put before the Competition Commission included the spin-off of Sky News as a separate company.
This time around Fox will need to assure politicians and regulators that it will safeguard Sky’s investment in the UK creative sector and the 23,000 people currently employed.
Sky claims to support a total of 130,000 jobs and contribute £8 billion a year towards the UK economy, as well as £3.4 billion in tax.