News Corp faces legal fight for BSkyB
UK media firms claim News Corp is using smoke and mirrors to push through its efforts to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
Rival firms including BT, Guardian Media Group, Northcliffe Media, Trinity Media Group, Associated Newspapers and Telegraph Media Group are mulling legal action to block the acquisition, which they claim will impact media plurality in the country, and cast doubt on News Corp pledges to maintain the independence of Sky News, a key feather in BSkyB’s cap.
The prospect of a deal moved a step closer yesterday after culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said the acquisition won’t be probed by competition authorities, after News Corp promised Sky would be spun off and that it wouldn’t seek to increase its 39% stake in the news outfit, a move it claims will preserve the independence of Sky’s operation and output.
Hunt opened a public consultation on the proposed take over, which runs to March 21.
The alliance of media rivals state they will use the consultation to fight the take over, claiming News Corp has backed out of similar independence pledges made when acquiring the Times and Sunday Times newspapers.
Alliance members are concerned News Corp will hinder competition through “cross promotion, bundling, banning rival’s advertisements and distorting the advertising market with cross platform deals,” a spokesman for the alliance told Telecoms Europe.net, adding. “Smoke and mirrors will not protect media plurality in the UK from the overweening influence of News Corporation.”
Executives from the firms penned a letter to then business minister Vince Cable in October, urging him to block News Corp’s plan to purchase the 60.9% of BSkyB it doesn’t already own.
BSkyB’s board has previously stated it won’t consider any offer that values the firm at less than 800 pence (€932 cents) per share.