By Julian Clover
Ofcom has been order to investigate proposals by News Corp to take full control of BSkyB on grounds of media plurality. The Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, has issued an intervention notice under Section 67 of the Enterprise Act 2002 that requires the regulator to summit its report by December 31.
The European Commission, which was yesterday formally notified by BSkyB of its intention to proceed with the £7.8 billion (€9.41 billion) bid for the 61% of the satcaster is does not already own, is expected to announce its own decision by December 8.
“On the basis of the information and submissions available to me, I have decided that it is appropriate to issue an intervention notice in this particular case,” said Cable.
“The independent experts at Ofcom will now investigate and report to me on the media plurality issues that may arise from this proposed acquisition.”
A further announcement will be made once Cable has considered Ofcom’s report that could lead to a referral to the Competition Commission.
Last month, the BBC, Channel 4, BT, The Guardian, Trinity Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph wrote to the business secretary urging him to refer the matter to Ofcom with the purpose of scrutinising the public interest aspects of the deal, which the signatories say could have “far reaching consequences for media plurality”.
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