Hunt delays decision on News Corp bid

Steve Dinneen
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CULTURE minister Jeremy Hunt has stalled his decision over the future of News Corp’s £7.8bn bid for Sky.

Hunt says he will give News Corp more time to prove its bid will not have an adverse affect on media plurality before referring it to the Competition Commission.

Media watchdog Ofcom has filed a report highlighting its concerns over the bid, which it recommends is investigated by the Competition Commission. News Corp is desperate to avoid this scenario, which will delay by at least six months its bid for the 61 per cent of the broadcaster it does not already own.

Hunt was accused of showing bias towards Rupert Murdoch’s organisation, despite saying he still plans to refer the bid to the Competition Commission.

A furious Sky yesterday accused Ofcom of bias in its assessment of the bid. The watchdog responded with a strongly worded statement reading: “We absolutely stand by our report which is a rigorous, thorough and independent assessment of the issues. News Corporation’s response makes a series of assertions of purported errors by Ofcom in its report.

“Specifically, News Corp alleges that Ofcom did not have an open mind when considering the issue of plurality. This allegation is without foundation.” Hunt has not given a date for his final decision but is expected to decide within the next month.