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Murdoch BSKyB Takeover Gets Green Light

David Gilbert

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Murdoch BSKyB Takeover Gets Green Light

In a decision that could change the television landscape completely, the British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given the go-ahead for the controversial £8.4 billion takeover of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

In a statement, Hunt said that the decision by News Corp to spin-off Sky News as an independent company would "address concerns about media plurality." The takeover has been vigorously challenged by a number of media outlets including the Guardian, the Telegraph, Associated Newspapers and Trinity Mirror, and in a joint statement, they said: “We shall be vigorously contesting this whitewash of a proposal during the consultation period, as well examining all legal options." Not surprisingly, News Corp has said it welcomed Hunt’s decision. BSky B posted profits of £520 million last January and surpassed 10 million subscribers in 2010.

The concerns about the takeover stemmed from the belief that one organisation having control of so many news outlets was inherently wrong. News Corp already owns the Sun, the News of the World, the Times and Sunday Times newspapers and is seeking to buy the 61 percent of BSkyB it doesn’t own. It also has many media interests outside of the UK including Fox broadcast and cable network and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and The Daily, its iPad-only newspaper. Hunt had the option to refer the takeover to the competition commission, but has decided not to do so despite Ofcom recommending this course of action. The European Commission has already ruled there is no reason to oppose the takeover on competition grounds.

The takeover bid began back in June of last year and in December, then-Business Secretary Vince Cable asked Ofcom to look at the potential impact on media plurality. Cable was then recorded saying he was “declaring war” on Murdoch and subsequently stripped of his position. While Hunt initially agreed with Ofcom about referring it to the Competition Commission, he allowed News Corp to make concessions, which they did in the shape of Sky News. Under the terms of News Corp's proposals, the board of Sky News would have a non-executive, independent chairman and a majority of non-executive, independent directors.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt

BBC business editor Robert Peston said Hunt's decision heralded "huge changes to the landscape of the British media industry," adding that a combined News Corp and BSkyB would generate revenues that would “dwarf all rivals, even the BBC." Those opposing the takeover will have until March 21 to lodge any complaints.

Do you think this is going to change the television landscape in Britain and if so will that be for better or worse?

Source: BBC

xbrumster

March 3, 2011, 5:03 pm

There you go, all footie funs under the big Murdoch umbrella.

freeview + VOD + warez serve me well on the other hand.

Spunjji

March 3, 2011, 6:07 pm

Great. Aren't News Corp perennial whingers about the BBC being a massive media monopoly? I'm sure they have many explanations as to how this is in the benefit of anybody other than Murdoch.

Simon

March 3, 2011, 7:40 pm

I can't say i am happy about this at all, but also unfortunately not surprised in the slightest that Hunt just let it go through. Did anyone really expect anything else to happen.

I give the BBC 5 years before the license fee no longer pays for it. (That said, i would pay the license fee to access the BBCs TV, Radio and Web output alone, and yes, that includes BBC Three and all those other channels everyone seems to love to knock).

mark

March 3, 2011, 9:37 pm

These sorts of deals have a smell about them that I don't like, & because of libel laws I am unable to actually say what I think!

Enigma

March 4, 2011, 12:29 am

Posted on the Guardian by @Estesark - 3 March 2011 6:58PM:

Media outlets under Rupert Murdoch's control after the deal goes through:

Newspapers and magazines
The Sun
The News of the World
The Times
The Sunday Times
The Times Literary Supplement
Skymag

Television channels
Sky 1
Comedy Central
Sky Living
Sky Atlantic
Sky Livingit
FX
Challenge
Comedy Central Extra
Sky 2
Sky Living Loves
Pick TV
Bio.
Sky 3D
Sky Arts 1
Sky Arts 2
Sky Movies Premiere
Sky Movies Showcase
Sky Movies Comedy
Sky Movies Action & Adventure
Sky Movies Family
Sky Movies Crime & Thriller
Sky Movies Drama & Romance
Sky Movies Sci-Fi & Horror
Sky Movies Modern Greats
Sky Movies Classics
Sky Movies Indie
MGM
Sky Sports 1
Sky Sports 2
Sky Sports 3
Sky Sports 4
Sky Sports News
MUTV
At The Races
Fox News Channel
National Geographic Channel
Nat Geo Wild
History
Military History
Crime & Investigation Network
Nickolodeon
Nicktoons
Nick Jr.
BabyTV
Sky Movies Box Office
STAR One
STAR Plus
STAR News
STAR Gold
Sky Vegas
Sky Poker
"Pub Channel"
Sky Venue

UK-based websites:
(On top of all the newspaper/TV channel websites)
Sky.com
Skyplayer.com
Sportinglife.com
Football365.com
Teamtalk.com
Planetrugby.com
Golf365.com
Planetf1.com
Cricket365.com
Extreme365.com
Fixtures365.com
Sportal.com
Teamsky.com
Bettingzone.co.uk
Skypoker.com
Skybet.com
Skyvegas.com
Skybingo.com
Oddschecker.com

+ Numerous subsidiary companies, and plenty more outlets I haven't found - the above list is incomplete.

Media outlets lost by Rupert Murdoch as part of the deal:
Sky News

stripy

March 4, 2011, 1:39 am

@mark I couldn't agree more. Sod the libel laws - this reeks of corruption!

MrGodfrey

March 4, 2011, 3:37 am

This, after approval of product placement and more ad breaks... Truly we are about to enter a golden age of British television - or not.

The hilarious thing for me is that despite Murdoch Jr's laughable portrayals of the BBC as a sinister self-serving monopoloy, the Beeb was quite happy to break the news of Vince Cable's secretly recorded boasts about taking on Murdoch. It virtually guaranteed the Govt would give Murdoch the green light for his BSkyB takeover. Even right-wing papers initially shied away from printing the story, but the Beeb ran with it. Reporting the news entirely objectively even when it means damaging your own interests and massively helping your competitor and fiercest detractor - is this the kind of sinister behavior Murdoch thinks we should fear?

Soapy

March 4, 2011, 2:05 pm

@MrGodfrey. Exactly, but this is the sort of thing the BBC has never been given credit for. As for Murdoch, well this is just another step towards the hegemony he craves. Little wonder when you hear that he is the third person consulted on any government policy decisions.

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