Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has said she is "minded" to order an Ofcom investigation into the planned £11.7 billion takeover of broadcaster Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, over concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards.
In a statement issued as the broadcasters formally notified the European Commission of the planned merger, Ms Bradley stressed that she has not yet taken a final decision on whether to intervene.
She has written to both companies asking for them to make written representations by March 8, with the aim of announcing a final decision on intervention in the week commencing March 13.
"I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am 'minded to' issue a European Intervention Notice on the basis that I have concerns that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to this proposed merger that warrant further investigation," said Ms Bradley.
"To be clear - I have not taken a final decision on intervention at this stage. In line with the guidance that applies to my quasi-judicial role I am inviting written representations from the parties and will aim to come to a final decision on whether to intervene in the merger within 10 working days of today's notification.
"In January I made clear that I would make this quasi-judicial decision independently, following a process that is scrupulously fair and impartial and as quickly as possible with all relevant information in front of me."