Theresa May tried to bury this bombshell while Britain was distracted by grief. Now it might blow up in her face

In recent weeks, a series of man-made tragedies have struck Britain. From terror attacks to the Grenfell Tower inferno. UK citizens have been grieving for the victims, and fighting to prevent future tragedies. Meanwhile, Theresa May was busy elsewhere – trying to seal a deal for the wholesale takeover of UK media by Rupert Murdoch.

The Sky deal

Rupert Murdoch tried to take full control of Sky in 2011. But the phone hacking scandal and revelations from the Leveson inquiry forced the government to withdraw support. And the deal fell through.

Just a few years later, Murdoch is at it again. This time, 21st Century Fox is putting up £11.7bn to buy out the 61% of Sky that the Murdochs don’t already own. The deal would give Murdoch an unprecedented ownership of UK media. Labour MP David Winnick expressed serious concern about the near-monopoly this would create for Murdoch, saying “it would be simply unacceptable that the amount of media ownership he already controls should be increased”.

The Murdochs have expressed confidence that, this time, the deal will go though. So have industry insiders. They’re pleased this time that other events are keeping the deal well away from the front pages.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley issued a press release without fanfare on Tuesday 20 June, announcing that a judgement will be made on the buyout in just a week’s time. Bradley will decide whether or not to refer the takeover to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for a more in-depth ‘phase 2’ investigation.

We should care because the ownership of UK media is central to the issues of bias, smear and fake news that have blighted us for decades. The Media Reform Coalition published a report in 2015 entitled Who owns the UK media?. They found that just three corporations own 71% of national newspaper circulation.