Culture Secretary 'minded' to refer Murdoch's £11.7bn Sky takeover to further inquiry

The culture secretary has said she is "minded" to refer Sky's proposed £11.7 billion takeover by 21st Century Fox to a further inquiry.

In a Commons statement, Karen Bradley said the bid by Rupert Murdoch's company to take full control of Sky could be referred because of concerns over media plurality.

Ms Bradley cited Ofcom's report which found the deal risked the Murdoch family having "increased influence" over the UK's news agenda and the political process.

She added that regulator and competition authority's conclusion was "unambiguous".

"The reasoning and evidence on which Ofcom's recommendationis based are persuasive the proposed entity would have thethird largest total reach of any news provider, lower only thanthe BBC and ITN and would uniquely span news coverage ontelevision, radio, in newspapers and online," Ms Bradley said.

Karen Bradley addresses MPs in the House of Commons.

"In Ofcom's view, the transaction may increase members of the Murdoch Family Trust's ability to influence the overall news agenda and their ability to influence the political process and it may also result in the perception of increased influence," she added.

Ms Bradly said parties involved in the process can make representations to her before she reaches a final decision, with a deadline of July 14.

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson accused Ms Bradley of following "established dance steps" as he predicted the government would eventually allow the merger to go ahead..

Tom Watson said undertakings from the Murdoch family were 'not worth the newsprint they are written on'.

"They always knew they weren't going to be enough to satisfy Ofcom so the Secretary of State will demand extra conditions, as a result of which she will be written up as a tough operator."

"The parties will offer something new which they always had in their back pockets, the Secretary of State will accept them as they always planned and this merger will go ahead, the deputy Labour leader added.

Mr Watson also said undertakings from the Murdoch family were "not worth the newsprint they are written on" as he warned that lessons had not been learned from the phone-hacking scandal.

"It's clear that the rules need to be reviewed and if the current Conservative Government won't do that then the next Labour government will," he added.