Fox control of sky is bad news for UK, warns Neil

 Journalist Andrew Neil 
BBC political interviewer Andrew Neil thinks Fox control of Sky will mean almost all UK commercial broadcasters will be foreign-owned Credit:  Julian Simmonds

Andrew Neil, the founding chairman of Sky, has urged the Government to block the takeover of the pay-TV giant by 21st Century Fox in order to preserve it as one of the “crown jewels” of British broadcasting.

At the investigation of the deal by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Mr Neil dismissed fears the Murdoch family will influence Sky News if Fox gains control, but warned foreign ownership of Sky would “not be good news for British broadcasting”

The BBC political interviewer was giving evidence both as a former editor of the The Sunday Times and leading member of the team that launched Sky Television in 1988.

Mr Neil, who left in 1994, told the CMA Britain should not allow Sky to be wholly owned by Fox, not because of media plurality or broadcasting concerns, but as “an issue of industrial policy”.  

Mr Neil said: “I am not saying Fox will treat Sky badly. Why would you? It is a huge money-spinner. We are in danger of ending up in the situation where nearly all our commercial broadcasters will be foreign-owned. We will have given away the crown jewels. I take the view that as Britain makes its way in the 21st century, one of the 12 industries in which we will make our way is broadcasting, because we are good at it and the rest of the world likes what we do."