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Competition Commission to rule on BSkyB bid

UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday told the House of Commons that he would refer News Corp’s bid to acquire BSkyB to the Competition Regulator.

The move was triggered by News Corp’s decision to withdraw its undertaking to spin off the Sky News channel in order to allay concerns about the impact of the acquisition on media plurality in the UK.

The company’s decision has been widely interpreted as a move to depoliticize the planned BSkyB acquisition in the wake of the phone hacking scandal centred on the now closed News of the World newspaper, and to delay a decision until a time when any deal might be less controversial.

News Corp’s move came as prime minister David Cameron suggested that the company should be focusing on its internal problems rather than “the next corporate move”.

The referral to the Competition Commission will give the regulator the power to decide whether News Corp’s acquisition of the 61% of BSkyB that it does not already own is likely to diminish media plurality, to block or clear the merger and to propose remedies, removing News Corp’s ability to suggest remedies of its own.