Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp has announced it will remove its offer to spin Sky News into its own company from its bid to takeover BSkyB and voluntarily open itself up to a Competition Commission.
News Corp had initially proposed turning Sky into it a separate company to ease concerns about insufficient media plurality.
This announcement comes in the wake of calls from members of Parliament for News Corp to abandon the BSkyB takeover entirely.
In a statement News Corp said that should Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt “decide on this basis to refer the proposed transaction to the Competition Commission for a detailed review News Corp is ready to engage with the Competition Commission on substance.”
Hunt did just that, announcing that he would refer the matter to the Competition Commission for inquiry.
This is key: The Competition Commission investigation is expected to last the better part of a year. Meaning, among other things that Murdoch has effectively put this increasingly embattled deal on hold for the foreseeable future without having to tank it.
The major concern about the deal prior to the implosion of the phone-hacking scandal was that, if completed, it would allow for insufficient plurality in the British media.
By removing the the undertakings — a mere 45 minutes before Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was set to address parliament — News Corp has forced the matter to be referred to the Commission (something they had initially been hoping to avoid) and forced the focus to issues of “media plurality” and away from phone hacking.
Risky, but brilliant.
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