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Murdoch offers to sell Sky News channel: report

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 16:45 EDT
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Rupert Murdoch
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LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has offered to sell its Sky News TV channel to clear the way for the media giant’s proposed bid to gain full control of pay-TV giant BSkyB, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The sale of the rolling news channel is seen as a move to reassure the British government, which is mulling whether to refer News Corp’s proposed £7.5 billion bid for the BSkyB shares it does not already own to competition authorities.

The BBC reported that News Corp has offered to sell Sky News as well as subsidise the channel for more than £20 million.

News Corp refused to comment on the report.

Culture minister Jeremy Hunt is still considering whether to approve the bid for the 61 percent stake in BSkyB, but other reports said a decision could be made as early as Thursday.

Hunt delayed a decision on whether to refer the deal for a full competition inquiry in January, after media regulator Ofcom suggested the move might be against the public interest in media plurality.

The minister said the move would give News Corp more time to gather information to support its bid and allay his concerns.

News Corp, which also owns British newspapers including The Sun and The Times, first offered 700 pence a share in June, but this was rejected by BSkyB’s directors who said they wanted more than 800 pence per share.

The companies behind the newspapers’ competitors — including the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror as well as broadcasters BBC and Channel 4 — have all expressed concerns that a deal could threaten competition.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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