Global media mogul Rupert Murdoch has dropped his $14 billion bid to take control of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the network reported Wednesday morning.
Word of the buyout cancellation comes shortly after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government would investigate whether News Corporation properties engaged in an illegal spying campaign against Americans — specifically against the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“I am confident the Metropolitan Police will get to the bottom of this,” Cameron told Parliament on Wednesday. His calls for a probe were echoed by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who promised “severe” consequences if Murdoch’s media empire targeted Americans.
Sky noted that News Corp., which owns a minority stake in the company, “intends to remain a long-term shareholder in BSkyB.”
“We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,” Chase Carey, chief operating officer of News Corp., said in an advisory. “News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and our contribution to it.”
Had News Corp. not dropped their bid to take full control of BSkyB, it would likely have been voted down by Parliament, amid a historic outcry by lawmakers against the American media conglomerate.
News Corp. subsidiary News International, which oversees the company’s British newspaper holdings, is alleged to have engaged in a series of high profile phone hacking and bribery schemes that targeted ranking politicians, the royal family, celebrities, a murder victim, the victims of terrorist attacks and the families of dead soldiers, among others.
While it is not clear if Murdoch’s U.S. media properties participated in these efforts, Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton, the former chief of News International, is said to have been involved.