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Murdoch says News Corp-Sky probe could jeopardise jobs

BSkyB and News Corp Europe and Asia chairman James Murdoch has said that any move by the UK government to block News Corp’s bid for full control of the pay TV operator could jeopardize British jobs.

Murdoch told the Morgan Stanley TMT conference in Barcelona that he did not believe there were strong grounds for an intervention by the government to block the merger on public interest or media plurality grounds.

Murdoch said the government should look at the benefits of having a “world leader” in digital TV based in the UK, against “potentially jeopardising” News Corp’s £8 billion (€9.4 billion) investment.

Murdoch said that no discussion had taken place about selling any of Sky’s assets to secure approval. There has been speculation that the broadcaster could be asked to sell off news channel Sky News, possibly to secure EC approval. The EC is currently carrying out a parallel probe into the acquisition.

Business secretary Vince Cable recently referred the proposed merger to media regulator Ofcom, giving it until the end of the year to submit a report on the impact of the deal on media plurality.

Also speaking in Barcelona, BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch said that the UK pay TV giant should achieve widening profit margins over the next few years. News Corp’s offer of 700 pence per share for the part of the company it does not already own was rejected by the company’s board. Sky shares are currently trading above that level.