UK Govt under fire over Murdoch BSkyB deal

14 Mar 2011

The British government has been criticised by media groups after it gave its lukewarm backing to the proposed takeover of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

The government OK’d the deal after News Corp came up with proposals to ease competition concerns.

However, BT, Guardian Media Group, Associated Newspapers, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media and Telegraph Media Group have all joined forces to refute the culture secretary’s decision not to send the matter to the Competition Commission.

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In a letter today, the media companies told culture secretary Jeremy Hunt they believed his decision was wrong.

Media tycoon Murdoch came one step closer to finally taking over BSkyB earlier this month once Hunt said he would allow the £8bn buyout of the broadcaster following proposals from News Corp about steps it would take to alleviate concerns from the Competition Commission.

However, the rival media groups said the proposed undertakings are “fraught with uncertainty and unlikely to safeguard plurality”.

The alliance’s letter said, “We do not believe that, given these concerns, and those of many others in civil society, the Culture Secretary should accept these undertakings, but should forward the matter to the Competition Commission for a full investigation.”

It also said the new arrangements would increase News Corp’s control over Sky News despite proposed arrangements.

The deal is still not “done” as investors may look for more than the 700p per share on the table.

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