Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Agrees to Antitrust Inquiry for BSkyB Bid

Ben Gurr - WPA Pool/ Getty Images

News Corp has dropped its bid to make its news channel Sky News a separate entity in light of the phone hacking scandal.

LONDON - News Corporation has agreed to submit to a full antitrust authority inquiry for its proposed bid for the 61% share in BSkyB that it does not own, the company said Monday.

In a statement Monday afternoon the company said that it would co-operate with the inquiry.
"Should the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport decide to refer the proposed transaction to the Competition Commission for a detailed review, News Corp is ready to engage with the Competition Commission on substance," the company said.

As a result News Corp. has dropped its bid to hive off its news channel Sky News into a separate entity.

The decision looks like an attempt to pre-empt a fresh inquiry into the deal by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who earlier today asked regulators to review the deal. The Competition Commission will now look at the deal on antitrust grounds.

If cleared, the $12 billion takeover would make News Corporation the most powerful media group in the UK, where it would own the largest newspaper group, the biggest pay-TV operator and Shine, the biggest independent production company, which was founded by Elisabeth Murdoch.

But the bid which has become increasingly controversial in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the UK, is now expected to be referred to the Competition Commission, the UK regulator on  merger activity, kicking off a regulator process that could add around nine months
to consideration of a deal that has already taken more than a year to be examined.