Murdoch waits for Ofcom report on BSkyB deal

Friday, December 31, 2010

LONDON - Media baron Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation are reported to be waiting anxiously for media regulator Ofcom to rule on whether his proposed eight billion pound buyout of BSkyB should be subjected to a Competition Commission inquiry.

Ofcom’s team, which includes specialist lawyers and economists and is headed by chief executive Ed Richards, is expected to continue finalising the document - described as a “substantial report” - this morning before presenting it to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, The Independent reports.

The decision falls to Hunt after being taken out of the hands of Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was recorded telling undercover reporters he had “declared war” on Murdoch.

It is expected that Hunt will make his ruling in the middle of January.

The buyout is being noisily challenged by Murdoch’s rivals, which are confident that Ofcom will recommend a referral.

Yesterday an “alliance” of competing media groups including the owners of the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, released details of an ICM poll which found that 63 per cent of the public believe the buyout should be scrutinised by the competition authorities.

The European Commission has already approved the deal, concluding that it was “confident that this merger will not weaken competition”.

But Ofcom has been investigating whether the buyout would reduce the plurality of UK media.

Observers have speculated that the deal would allow News Corp to strengthen ties between its papers (including The Sun, the News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal Europe) and Britain’s biggest broadcaster by turnover. (ANI)

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