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Rupert Murdoch Finally Makes BSkyB Takeover Offer Official

EU regulatory review of planned acquisition kicks off; deal has come under fire from U.K. competitors that claim News Corp. would monopolize the airwaves

NEW YORK - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Wednesday said it has officially notified the European Union of its proposed offer to buy full control of U.K. pay TV provider BSkyB, which formally kicks off the regulatory approval process.

The media giant has held informal talks with the European Commission, during which the commission wanted to ensure it had all the information it needed.

The deal proposal will now be considered by European regulators and by Britain's business secretary Vince Cable who can refer it to media regulator Ofcom and to the Competition Commission.

News Corp. already owns 39% of BSkyB and proposed paying 7.8 billion pounds (currently about $12.5 billion), or 700 pence per share, for the BSkyB shares that it does not already own.

BSkyB's independent directors rejected the bid as too low, saying they would  support an offer above 800 pence. The two sides then agreed to look for regulatory approval before further price negotiations.

A coalition of British media powers from all parts of the political spectrum recently urged Cable to consider blocking the deal, protesting that the "proposed takeover could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality."

Observers have said the EU and U.K. deal reviews could take up to six months.