In a further blow to Rupert Murdoch, a $2bn (£1bn) takeover bid by an Australian pay-TV business part-owned by his News Corp is expected to be blocked by the country's competition watchdog.
The bid by Foxtel, in which News Corp has a 25 per cent stake, for rival Austar will create a pay-TV monopoly, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said. Austar shares plunged as much as 20 per cent.
The commission insisted its preliminary finding had nothing to do with the phone hacking scandal engulfing News Corp in Britain, which prompted Murdoch to abandon a separate pay-TV deal to fully take over British firm BSkyB.
"It has nothing to do with it all, not even a consideration," Graeme Samuel, the commission's chairman, told Reuters.
Analysts warned that the commission's final decision due in September was likely to reflect its preliminary views, thus killing the deal.
"It is hard to see what kind of remedies Foxtel and Austar can provide to alleviate the concerns of the ACCC, without undermining the value of the deal," said Justin Diddams, an analyst at Citi.
City A.M. Reporter