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British business minister in ‘war’ with Murdoch

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 13:21 EDT
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Britain’s business minister said he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch and planned to block the media mogul’s efforts to take control of pay TV giant BSkyB, in remarks published Tuesday.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary in Britain’s coalition government, made the comments to undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph newspaper who were posing as constituents.

“You may wonder what is happening with the Murdoch press,” it quoted Cable as saying. “I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we’re going to win.”

Discussing the 12.0-billion-dollar (9.1-billion-euro) takeover bid by Murdoch’s News Corporation for BSkyB — which was cleared by EU regulators on Tuesday — Cable said he wanted to halt it.

“I have blocked it, using the powers that I have got. And they are legal powers that I have got,” he said.

“I can’t politicise it, but for the people who know what is happening, this is a big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. So there are things like that, that being in government… All we can do in opposition is protest.”

News Corporation’s attempt to buy a majority stake in BSkyB remains subject to a British regulatory review that is due to report next week.

A spokesperson for News Corporation said: “News Corp. is shocked and dismayed by reports of Mr Cable’s comments.

“They raise serious questions about fairness and due process.”

The Daily Telegraph had earlier Tuesday published remarks by Cable indicating he could quit and “bring the government down” if he is pushed too far in talks with Prime Minister David Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives.

But the newspaper did not initially print the remarks about Murdoch, which were first revealed when they were leaked to the BBC.

The Telegraph did not explain why it had held back the remarks.

Telegraph Media Group, the owner of the newspaper, is one of several media organisations which have opposed the BSkyB deal.

Agence France-Presse
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