×

BSkyB takeover faces probe

U.K.'s Competition Commission likely to investigate deal

News Corp.’s planned £8 billion ($12.4 billion) takeover of U.K. paybox BSkyB is likely to be subject to a six-month inquiry by Blighty’s Competition Commission.

Media minister Jeremy Hunt is expected to publish a report by regulator Ofcom this month, which was handed to him Dec. 31.

While the contents of the report are confidential, informed speculation in the local media suggests that Ofcom has recommended that the Competition Commission should examine the BSkyB buyout.

At issue is whether outright ownership of BSkyB — the conglom already owns 39% of the satcaster — would have an adverse impact on media plurality in the U.K.

The matter is a red-hot political potato that has already caused Prime Minster David Cameron to censure one senior politician and strip him of his responsibility for ruling on the deal.

After it emerged last month that business secretary Vince Cable had privately told undercover reporters that he intended to “wage war” on News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch, Cameron handed the BSkyB brief to Hunt.

However, Hunt’s own impartiality has been questioned.

He is widely regarded as being pro-News Corp., but is, according to reports, determined to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the company until BSkyB’s ownership is resolved.

Despite widespread opposition to the deal by many of News Corp.’s U.K. rivals, Murdoch is expected to get his way — although Hunt may insist on caveats.

There has been speculation that Murdoch would be prepared to sell the loss-making Times and Sunday Times to avoid accusations of media plurality and achieve his aim of owning BSkyB outright.

The European Commission has cleared the takeover on competition grounds.

More TV

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

  • Pictured (l-r): Doug Jones as Lieutenant

    Mipcom Roundup: E4 Buys 'Star Trek: Discovery'; All3Media Sells Drama Package

    In Variety’s fourth Mipcom roundup, E4 buys U.K. linear rights to “Star Trek: Discovery,” All3Media sells drama package to Pickbox Now, African broadcasters buy 800 hours of content from BBC Studios, France’s Serieclub acquires offbeat Norwegian comedy, ZDF and Red Balloon team for young adult book adaptation, and Viacom and Youku partner on kids’ animation. [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Music Video Agreement for Performers

    SAG-AFTRA’s national board has approved unanimously an agreement with major record labels on a three-year successor contract to their music video agreement. The new agreement is effective retroactively from May 1, 2019, through April 30, 2022. The major labels party to the agreement are Warner Records, Atlantic Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Capitol [...]

  • Darren Star, Canneseries 2020 season 03

    Darren Star Reflects on His Iconic Shows And Teases 'Emily in Paris' at Mipcom

    Darren Star, the creator of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Sex and the City” who was celebrated at Mipcom on Monday and named patron of the upcoming Canneseries festival, said the iconic TV series he created struck a chord throughout the world because of their relatable characters and cultural grounding. “I never thought of [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Fourth Democratic Primary Debate

    For the first time since Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the top 12 Democratic primary candidates will take part in a debate. This marks the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 campaign season. The event is co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times and will be held at Otterbein [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content