Britain starts new consultation on News Corp/BSkyB deal

30th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British government said on Thursday it will begin a new seven-day consultation over News Corp's bid to win control of broadcaster BSkyB, after issuing more robust proposals.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp offered in March to spin off its Sky News TV channel in order to address competition concerns over the BSkyB bid.

Media regulator Ofcom has recommended that the proposal to hive off Sky News would address competition concerns -- and that advice has not changed, the government said in a statement after an initial consultation.

However, culture and media minister Jeremy Hunt has now decided to strengthen his proposals and a new consultation period that will run until July 8.

"I am aware of the huge interest in the proposed merger and am grateful to those who responded to the consultation," said Hunt in the statement.

"The regulators have confirmed that the proposed undertakings are still sufficient to ensure media plurality.

"I could have decided to accept the original undertakings but a number of suggestions were made in response to the consultation which could further strengthen the undertakings, particularly around editorial independence, business viability and the articles of association.

"I am therefore proposing some changes to the undertakings and I will now hold a further public consultation."

Murdoch's company wants to buy the 61 percent of BSkyB shares it does not already own for £7.5 billion ($12.2 billion, nine billion euros).

News Corp's proposals would turn the loss-making rolling news channel into a new company, with its shares distributed among existing BSkyB investors.

Hunt proposed on Thursday that Sky News should have an independent director with senior editorial experience, and a monitoring trustee to ensure News Corp complies with the terms of the deal.

Sky would meanwhile be required to cross-promote Sky News on its television channels.

In response, News Corp said Thursday that it would continue to engage constructively with the regulatory process.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article