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LONDON – Rupert Murdoch Thursday inched closer to his goal of acquiring the 61 percent stake in BSkyB that he doesn’t already own.
An agreement clearing from the British government is expected to kick off a mighty battle for the hugely profitable pay TV programmer – home to Premier League soccer, first run Hollywood movies and shows such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and House.
The British culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said he has “agreed in principle” a set of proposals put forward by News Corp. aimed at protecting news plurality in the U.K.
Hunt has said that he is now “minded to accept” the deal, but still needs agreement on some changes relating to the protections given to Sky News, the broadcaster’s 24-hour news network due to be partially sold off as part of the deal.
“The regulators have confirmed that the proposed undertakings are still sufficient to ensure media plurality,” he said in a statement
“I am aware of the huge interest in the proposed merger and am grateful to those who responded to the consultation. I have considered carefully the points raised and, as at all steps in the process, taken advice from independent regulators.”
It is over a year since News Corp. first mooted a bid to take full control of Europe’s biggest shareholder, launched by Rupert Murdoch in the early nineties.
At the time News Corp. offered just £7 per share for the company, which now trades at £8.45 ($13.50). Some analysts have suggested that News Corp. may have to pay well in excess of £10 ($16) per share to secure an agreement.
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