Clearance on News Corporation‘s bid for the remainder of BSkyB will be delayed by at least two weeks, the Financial Times reported this week, “after a hitch in negotiations between Rupert Murdoch’s media group and UK regulators”.
People familiar with the talks between the two sides said on Monday, that the delay had been caused by the level of detail that Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport required in a merger remedy offered by News Corp.
The remedy was for Sky News to be spun off into a separate company called Newco to address concerns for media plurality.
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Trinity Mirror had “contemplated” selling some of its shares to the Daily Mail and General Trust earlier this year in return for DMGT’s regional newspaper group Northcliffe Media coming under its control, according to a report from the Guardian.
This would reportedly have been part of a merger which was allegedly being considered by the newspaper owners.
The basis of the deal was a scheme to bring together the two companies’ regional newspaper groups under the control of Trinity Mirror. In return Trinity would have offered a mixture of cash and shares to DMGT, giving it a strategic shareholder for the first time since the days of Robert Maxwell.
Negotiations between the two sides came to a halt, although Daily Mail executives have told their counterparts at Trinity that negotiations could resume in future.
The BBC reports this morning that rival media groups have come together and called on business secretary Vince Cable to consider blocking Murdoch’s planned bid for the remainder of BSkyB.
Signatories are said to include the heads of the BBC and Channel 4 and chief executives of newspapers including the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Mail and the Mirror. The letter argues that any such bid would “reduce diversity in the industry”.
In June, News Corp told the board of BSkyB that it was prepared to pay 700p a share to take full control of the leading satellite broadcaster. BSkyB’s directors said the offer was £1 per share too low, but agreed to resume negotiations after regulatory hurdles have been cleared.
News Corporation has been confident that it could demonstrate that the combination of BSkyB with News Corporations’ UK newspapers – the Sun, the Times, the News of the World and the Sunday Times – does not pose a serious threat to competition.
This follows news last month that similar calls on Vince Cable were being backed by the National Union of Journalists while founder of Enders Analysis Claire Enders wrote to Cable to voice her concerns over the future plurality of the media.