A series of raids on sports broadcasters across the UK was conducted Tuesday as part of a crackdown on abuse. The offices of 21st Century Fox were raided by agents from the European Commission investigating suspected anti-competitive practices. A spokesman from Fox confirmed a series of "unannounced inspections" had taken place at the offices of multiple companies in several countries in Europe.
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"Fox Networks Group (FNG) is cooperating fully with the EC inspection," a spokesman for Rupert Murdock's company said. FNG is responsible for distributing TV content and cable channels around the globe for the company. A spokesman from the European Commission said,
"The European Commission can confirm that on 10 April its officials carried out unannounced inspections in several member states at the premises of companies active in the distribution of media rights and related rights pertaining to various sports events and/or their broadcasting. Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The commission respects the rights of defense, in particular, the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings."
During the raids, documents and computer records were taken from the companies including Fox which "may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices." Fox has been embattled in a takeover of Sky which has led to intense scrutiny by regulators in both London and Brussels. The media giant is seeking to purchase the 61% of Sky the company doesn't own giving Fox the majority.
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January, the UK's competition and markets authority provisionally found that if the deal went ahead it would give the Murdoch family too much control over the news in the UK and it would amount to a monopoly. Disney is working with Fox to help them secure Sky in order to pave the way for Disney's proposed $66bn buyout of most of 21st Century Fox. That deal would include Sky.
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