Timeline of Murdoch's failed BSkyB takeover bid

13th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Wednesday abandoned a bid to win full control of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB and expand his sprawling global media empire.

News Corporation's doomed bid was dogged by the notorious phone-hacking scandal at its News of the World tabloid, in a crisis which sparked last week's closure of Britain's biggest selling Sunday newspaper.

BSkyB, whose jewel in the crown is live coverage of English Premier League football, has 10 million household customers in Britain.

News Corp. -- which controls top media outlets including Fox television and The Wall Street Journal -- is maintaining its 39.1 percent stake in BSkyB, keeping it as the broadcaster's biggest single shareholder.

Here is a timeline of events:

- June 15, 2010: News Corp. bids £7.8 billion (8.6 billion euros, $12.5 billion) for the 60.9 percent of BSkyB that it does not already own. BSkyB rejects the 700-pence-per-share offer, saying it wants more than 800 pence.

- October 12: British media groups, including the BBC and Daily Telegraph newspaper, urge Business Secretary Vince Cable in a letter to block Murdoch's BSkyB bid, citing concerns over media plurality.

- November 4: Cable refers News Corporation's bid to Britain's Competition Commission regulator.

- November 8: BSkyB says that it has struck its long-held target of 10 million household customers.

- December 21: European regulators green-light the deal.

- December 21: British Prime Minister David Cameron strips Cable of responsibility over the BSkyB decision after he tells an undercover reporter that he had "declared war" on Murdoch and planned to block the bid. Responsibility is handed to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

- January 21, 2011: Cameron's media chief Andy Coulson quits over a tabloid phone-hacking row at the News of the World, where he was previously editor.

- March 3: News Corp. offers to spin off its Sky News television channel in order to address competition concerns over the BSkyB bid.

- June 30: Hunt accepts the plans to hive off Sky News, but amid ongoing opposition to a BSkyB takeover, strengthens his proposals for the deal and extends a consultation period until July 8.

- July 4: Reports emerge that journalists at the News of the World hacked the voicemail of murdered teenage girl Milly Dowler in 2002, giving false hope to her family that she was alive.

- July 6: British media watchdog Ofcom warns that it is closely monitoring the fast-moving crisis, amid allegations that the paper also hacked the families of dead soldiers and relatives of victims of the deadly London 2005 bombings.

Cameron calls for a public inquiry into hacking and main opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband urges the government to delay its decision on whether News Corp. should be allowed to gain full control of BSkyB.

- July 7: News International announces the closure of the 168-year-old News of the World, with the loss of 200 jobs.

- July 10: The News of the World publishes its final edition under the headline: "Thank You and Goodbye". It sells 3.8 million copies, 1.1 million more than its usual circulation.

Rupert Murdoch flies into London to take personal charge of the scandal, as new reports emerge that the tabloid allegedly paid British royal protection officers for contact details and targeted families of British victims of the 9/11 attacks.

- July 11: News Corp. scraps its pledge to sell off Sky News, which prompts the government to refer the BSkyB bid to competition authorities.

BSkyB's share price slumps underneath 700 pence a share -- the bid offer -- from 850 pence in just one week on speculation that Murdoch could scrap the takeover.

- July 13: News Corp. withdraws its bid for BSkyB, shortly before Britain's parliament was to debate a government-backed motion calling on Murdoch to halt his takeover attempt.

Cameron welcomes the decision, saying that News Corp should "focus on clearing up the mess and getting its own house in order".

© 2011 AFP

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