Fox UK offices raided by European Union antitrust regulators over sports-media rights

Rupert_Murdoch

The British headquarters of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has been raided by investigators from the European Commission (EC) over possible breaches of antitrust rules.

A spokesperson for Fox Networks Group confirmed to Variety that the company was "cooperating fully" with the Commission's inspection.

Fox Networks and Ziggo Sport were among companies raided by European Union antitrust regulators as part of a probe into the distribution of sports-media rights.

The European Commission has powers to raid businesses suspected of abusing their dominance of a market or being involved in a price fixing cartel.

Officials reportedly seized documents and company records. However, it is not clear which companies were raided and when. "(It). does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself", the statement said.

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The CMA said the deal would hand too much power over the UK's news agenda to Murdoch and his family, who also own United Kingdom newspapers including The Times. Shares of 21st Century Fox were flat in late trading after ending the regular session up 1.6%.

The European Commission has launched an investigation targeting sports broadcasters, including Fox Networks Group. Franklin Resources Inc. owned approximately 0.07% of 21st Century Fox worth $44,373,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

It is batting with Comcast as well as regulators in Britain to have the right to purchase the largest pay-TV business in Europe, Sky for approximately $15 billion, while also agreeing to sell several of its assets for about $52 billion to Walt Disney Co.

The raid comes amid Fox's attempted $15 billion takeover of Sky, which the UK's Competition and Markets Authority has now tied up, saying Fox's bid would not be in the public interest.

The Commission announced that there was not any legal deadline for the completion of its inquiries into the conduct of anti-competitiveness and that the EC investigations may end up be quite lengthy.

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