News Corp’s bid for BSkyB gets approval

Steve Dinneen
Follow Steve
JEREMY Hunt finally waved through News Corp’s proposed bid for BSkyB yesterday after accepting a string of concessions over Sky News.

The decision from the culture secretary (pictured) marks the end of a long period of negotiations between the media giant, Department of Culture officials, the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom.

The decision will now be put out for one last seven day period of consultation but analysts expect it to be passed without further delay.

Rupert Murdoch’s company has agreed to “hive off” Sky News to an new company that exists to ensure the independence of the channel.

News Corp has agreed to put guidelines in place around who can become an independent director at the new Sky News company, such as banning anyone who has worked for News Corp within the past five years.

Independent directors will also have to be present at board meetings if decisions on editorial issues are taken. Media watchdog Ofcom yesterday made public its recommendation over the bid, saying News Corp had allayed its concerns over media plurality.

A year ago, News Corp said it had offered 700p a share – around £7.8bn – for the 61 per cent of BSkyB it did not already own.

Sky’s independent directors then demanded at least 800p but, after a blockbuster year that has seen the broadcaster smash through the 10m subscribers barrier, some investors are now calling for a price of up to £11.

Sources close to News Corp say it will not be bullied into paying over the odds for the broadcaster.

On Wednesday, News Corp sold MySpace for $35m, compared with the $580m it paid in 2005.