Last week, Rupert Murdoch moved one step closer to getting a bigger piece of the media pie in Britain.

The media mogul, who wants full control of Sky, the country's largest privately-owned broadcaster, has informed the European Commission of his plans to acquire the 61 percent of Sky that he does not already own through 21st Century Fox.

But before this case is heard in Brussels, Murdoch faces hurdles in the UK.

The decision is now in the hands of Karen Bradley, the cabinet minister responsible for media, who must decide this week whether or not she wants to rule on this case herself or pass it on to the UK's broadcasting regulator, Ofcom.

This takeover really matters to the Murdoch media empire and the reason it really matters is that this is unfinished business.

David Bond, reporter, Financial Times

This is not the first time Ofcom has seen this proposal.

In 2011, Murdoch's buyout of Sky was all but assured until a phone-hacking scandal broke at his newspapers.

Feeling which way the wind was blowing, Murdoch withdrew his offer.

So what has changed since? Is media plurality in Britain still a concern?

"It's an enormously significant merger proposal, both in terms of media ownership, media plurality and all the kinds of issues to do with concentration of power that go along with that," says Justin Schlosberg, chair of Media Reform Coalition.

Financial Times reporter David Bond adds: "Whenever you talk to people, you say 'Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy Sky' and their reaction is often, 'Well, doesn't he own it already?' Well, he doesn't and he wants to own all of it. And the reason he wants to own all of it is because consolidation at the moment for media companies is the key word."

Since the 2011 phone-hacking scandal, the Murdochs have cleaned house.

"They have divided the two companies up. So there is News Corporation with the newspapers, and there is Sky and Fox, the television entertainment business," says Jane Martinson, head of media at The Guardian.

Should the case be referred to Ofcom, the regulator is expected to study the effect the Sky takeover would have on media plurality in the UK.

Murdoch's News Corp already has 40 percent of the newspaper market and the Sky deal would give him more control on the television side.

"There's an assumption that people today are getting their news from an ever widening-range of news
sources ... because there's an infinite horizon of news websites, broadcasters, press, etc, available on their
phones any time that they wish," says Schlosberg.

But most of the news in the UK still comes from the same outlets as they were six years ago.

Leveson Inquiry:

The Murdochs are not the only ones with unfinished business to attend to.

There is also the Leveson Inquiry, part II.

The first judicial probe into the relationship between the press and the powers that be was limited in scope because there were so many legal cases still before the courts.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron promised a second inquiry, a deeper investigation into the press and British police.

However, Theresa May's current government appears eager to avoid re-convening the inquiry, which would suit Murdoch.

The mogul has the kind of access to 10 Downing Street other tycoons would kill for. Cameron, during his first week in office in 2010, met twice with Murdoch.

On her first overseas trip as prime minister, May had just 36 hours in New York, but devoted some of that time to Murdoch. The prime minister's office says the Sky bid was not discussed, but it's unclear if part II of the Leveson Inquiry was.

"What seems to be almost an unwritten part of the job description for both prime ministers is that they need to meet regularly with Rupert Murdoch. Far more often, not only than any other media elites or executives, but anyone else - full stop," explains Schlosberg.

Major banks, oil and chemical companies, which have a huge effect on Britain's economy and job creation, do not get anywhere near the kind of access that Murdoch gets.

It is often reported that one of the reasons the inquiry is unlikely to happen is the government's pre-occupation with Brexit - Britain's impending departure from the European Union - alluding to the idea that the prime minister does not want to antagonise the papers whose support she needs during the talks with Brussels.

Lost in that logic is a contention held by many that without newspapers such as those owned by Murdoch clamouring for a "Yes" vote, the referendum, which was close, could easily have gone the other way.

So now, an inquiry into the relationship British newspapers have with the government and the police, which was promised, will probably be shelved because of another story those papers helped make happen.

Contributors:
Jane Martinson, head of media, The Guardian
David Bond, reporter, Financial Times
Justin Schlosberg, chair, Media Reform Coalition
Suzanne Franks, media professor, City University

Source: Al Jazeera News