Bid ban may hit Sky News

Steve Dinneen
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SKY News could suffer if the takeover of its owner BSkyB by News Corp is blocked, according to independent directors at the broadcaster.

In a submission to media watchdog Ofcom, directors at Sky warned future investment in the news channel could be jeopardised if the takeover is vetoed. They argue that blocking the £7.8bn bid could actually undermine “media plurality” – the issue being investigated by Ofcom – by weakening Sky News.

The directors said this would be “a wholly unwelcome outcome, contrary to the public interest,” claiming they wanted to avoid Ofcom setting a precedent that could discourage future interest in the channel.

They also argued that Sky News controls just five per cent of the TV news audience, meaning the takeover would not pose “serious public interest consequences”.

The submission, part of the Ofcom probe into the bid, comes after News Corp ramped up pressure on the government last week. News Corp’s head of Europe James Murdoch said News Corp could move some of its operations abroad if the coalition tried to stand in the way of the takeover.

News Corp is desperate to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own. However, it has faced intense criticism from rival media organisations, who say the takeover could irrevocably harm the UK media landscape by placing too much power with one firm.