HOW BIG IS RUPERT’S HEADACHE?

Q.SO WHO IS INVESTIGATING THE NEWS CORP BID?
A.Business secretary Vince Cable has asked communications watchdog Ofcom to prepare a report for him. Cable will then decide whether an investigation by the Competition Commission should be launched. The European Competition Commission will also decide whether it will launch a separate investigation after being notified of Sky’s intentions on Wednesday.

Q.WHY ARE BOTH THE EU AND UK INVESTIGATING?
A.As the deal would be worth over £5bn it falls to the European Commission to approve the deal. It will decide whether a full competition investigation needs to take place. But Cable is looking at the deal from a different angle: media plurality. Ofcom will prepare a report advising the business secretary if it thinks the deal could harm UK media.

Q.SO HOW LONG IS THAT GOING TO TAKE?
A.At the moment we’re not sure. Cable has asked Ofcom to prepare its report by the end of December. He will then consider whether to ask the Competition Commission to investigate. If he goes for this option, a 24 week investigation will be launched which would involve inviting evidence, holding hearings and reporting findings. The European Commission probe would be marginally quicker at around four months.

Q.HOW LIKELY IS A FULL INVESTIGATION?
A.It’s a pretty good bet. Last time Ofcom looked at a similar case was Sky attempting to take a stake in ITV, and the watchdog decided there were implications for media plurality. It’s difficult to imagine them not expressing similar concerns this time around.