EU clears News Corp.'s controversial BSkyB takeover

21st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

European regulators cleared Tuesday the controversial 12-billion-dollar takeover offer by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for British pay-TV giant BSkyB.

The EU green light is purely concerned with competition issues, given the two companies have limited direct crossover. However the takeover remains subject to hot political debate in Britain where powerful mass-media ownership is in ever-fewer hands.

The European commission's findings "are without prejudice to the ongoing investigation by the competent UK authorities of whether the proposed transaction is compatible with the UK interest in media plurality," a statement underlined.

"The UK remains free to decide whether or not to take appropriate measures to protect its legitimate interest in media plurality."

News Corp. told the EU earlier this month it was prepared to change the terms of its 7.8-billion-pound offer for the 61 percent of the Sky News broadcaster that it does not already own.

The deal has raised hackles in some quarters that News Corp., which owns a stable of British newspapers including daily market leader The Sun and The Times of London, would have too much control of the media.

BSkyB also notably screens English Premiership football.

Australian-born US citizen Murdoch's News Corp., which has significant pay-TV interests in Italy and Germany also, is also behind 20th Century Fox Hollywood film studio, as well as a string of television channels such as Fox and National Geographic.

© 2010 AFP

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