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News Corp Moves Closer To Owning All Of BSkyB

News Corp Moves Closer To Owning All Of BSkyB

8:06am 30th June 2011
(Updated 12:03pm 30th June 2011)

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has moved a step closer to taking complete control of BSkyB after the Government provisionally accepted its plan to protect Sky News' independence.

However, there will now be a further week of public consultation over the bid, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

Mr Hunt said he was still minded to give his approval to the proposed merger, but wanted people to consider some changes to its terms.

The public now has until July 8 to respond, after which time the Culture Secretary is expected to OK the bid or refer it to the Competition Commission.

Under takeover plans put forward by News Corp earlier this year, Sky News would be spun off as a separate company, to allay concerns over media plurality.

The Culture Secretary said he was prepared to accept this condition, and put the plans out to public consultation.

Over 40,000 people submitted their view during the consultation - including a "very large number of near-identical responses" due to internet campaigns.

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

He added that none of the responses had offered evidence strong enough to block the deal, but many gave suggestions that could strengthen the terms.

These included detail that would help ensure the business viability and editorial independence of Sky News, he added.

News Corp, whose assets in the UK include the Sun and the Times newspapers, already owns 39% of BSkyB and wants to buy the rest.

It last year offered 700p a share, valuing the company at £12.3bn, but the board told Mr Murdoch to come back with a higher offer.

Opposition to the deal has come from a coalition of rival media groups, who argue that News Corp would have too much control in UK media if it acquires BSkyB.

They have previously said they are willing to take legal action to block the deal.

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