Fox’s $15 billion takeover of Sky has been referred to the UK’s competition authorities, delaying the deal for at least 6 months.
Announced last December, the deal would see 21st Century Fox buy the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own.
The proposed tie-up is deeply controversial with many UK opposition politicians and media campaigners who claim it would give Fox owner Rupert Murdoch too much control over the UK’s news and media landscape.
Claims have also been made that Sky News could become more partisan in the vein of Fox News as a result of the takeover, although supporters of the bid point out that UK broadcasting rules guarantee impartiality by broadcasters.
A previous attempt by Fox to buy Sky failed in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of The News of the World.
On Thursday culture secretary Karen Bradley confirmed the current bid would be examined by the Competition and Markets Authority which would be asked to explore its impact on broadcasting standards and media plurality.
The process will take 24 weeks, after which Bradley will decide both whether the deal can proceed and whether it should be subject to conditions.
Today’s decision means the two firms will need to wait until early 2018 to hear whether the takeover can proceed.
A Sky spokesperson said: “We note the swift decision to now refer this to the CMA and will continue to engage constructively in this process.”