Sky deal: James Murdoch faces shareholders at annual meeting

AM ET CMA Outlines Review of 21st Century Fox  Sky Deal Will be looking at diversity of voices broadcast standards

AM ET CMA Outlines Review of 21st Century Fox Sky Deal Will be looking at diversity of voices broadcast standards

Like-for-like revenues were up five per cent to £3.3bn in the three months to 30 September, from £3.1bn this time a year ago.

The group shrugged off pressure on consumer and advertising spending to post a 5% rise in revenues to £3.3 billion for the first quarter, while underlying earnings jumped 11% to £582 million.

Mr Darroch said it was a strong start to the new financial year: "Against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on United Kingdom television advertising, we were particularly pleased with our own EBITDA growth of 15% in our established business".

He said the first series of Sky's home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, while Game of Thrones had become the most watched series ever on Sky.

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

Royal London, which holds a 44 million pound ($58 million) stake in Sky, was one of the investors which planned to vote against James Murdoch's re-election, saying he could not effectively represent independent shareholders while he was chief executive of Fox.

Murdoch said at the Sky annual meeting that the companies were "engaged constructively with the regulatory authorities" about the deal.

Ofcom's chief executive has given a robust defence of the regulator's decision not to recommend a referral of 21st Century Fox's proposed takeover of Sky plc to competition watchdogs on concerns over broadcasting standards.

They claimed that, because Fox is now trying to buy full control of Sky, he could not be a completely independent chairman of the latter.

It will also look at the Murdoch family's ability to "influence the political agenda" and how that could change after the deal, alongside more general scrutiny of how it could affect the number and variety of media in the United Kingdom, including the "range of viewpoints".

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

Among the areas the CMA will look at are how and if the Murdoch family's ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change following the bid for full control of the company. It will assess also the current state of plurality within the United Kingdom media, and the commitment to accuracy in newspapers controlled by the MFT's News Corp division, including The Times and The Sun.

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