Business

European Authorities Raid Offices of 21st Century Fox Unit

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Sports programming has played a key role in Rupert Murdoch’s ability to gain a foothold in the European pay-TV market. Credit Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

European authorities raided the London offices of a unit of 21st Century Fox on Tuesday as part of an antitrust investigation into the distribution of sports programming.

The search at Fox Networks Group was one of several the European Commission said it had conducted across Europe as part of an investigation into potential violations of rules prohibiting price-fixing cartels. The investigation adds to the regulatory challenges that 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch’s media giant, is facing in Europe, where officials have held up its bid to take full control of the British satellite broadcaster Sky.

In a statement, Fox Networks Group said it was “cooperating fully with the E.C. inspection.” The raid was first reported by The Daily Telegraph in London, which said the authorities had seized documents and computer files. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, declined to comment on what companies were involved in the searches.

Sports programming has played a key role in Mr. Murdoch’s ability to gain a foothold in the European pay-TV market. Through 21st Century Fox, he owns a 39 percent stake in Sky, which has 23 million customers and owns rights to show the English Premier League and other professional soccer leagues.

Mr. Murdoch has sought to buy the remaining 61 percent of Sky, but the British authorities have not given their final approval. Sky is an important part of the Walt Disney Company’s proposed $52 billion deal to buy much of 21st Century Fox.

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