(Fixes typographical errors in paragraphs 1 and 2)
LONDON Dec 10 Rupert Murdoch's new takeover
approach for British pay-TV firm Sky should be
investigated by the UK's competition authorities, according to
the former minister who referred the tycoon's previous bid.
Vince Cable, who was Britain's business secretary at the
time of Murdoch's first bid in 2010-11 told BBC radio the media
tycoon's new takeover attempt would not be in the public
On Friday Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox said
it had struck a preliminary deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it
does not already own for around $14 billion. It came five years
after a political scandal wrecked his previous bid.
That attempt to buy Sky through his News Corp
business provoked uproar among some UK politicians, who said it
would give the billionaire owner of The Sun and The Times
newspapers too much control over the country's media.
It collapsed in 2011 when Murdoch's UK newspaper business
was engulfed in a phone-hacking scandal. It intensified
political opposition, resulted in a criminal trial, and led to
the closure of his News of the World tabloid.
Cable said the issue was the same five years on.
"This is yet again a threat to media plurality, choice, just
as it was six years ago when I referred this to the competition
authorities and it should be investigated," he said.
"The ownership of the media, whether you're looking at
press, radio, television is very highly concentrated and this
makes it even more concentrated."
However, analysts said Friday's proposal was likely to have
an easier ride, partly because News Corp has now separated from
Fox, which means the bidding firm no longer owns UK newspapers,
and because there are little or no competition issues, with very
material changes in the market for news in the UK since 2010.
They also said the British government was keen to promote
investment in the wake of the Brexit vote and could present the
deal as a sign of confidence in the economy.
"It's very likely that even if there is a plurality
investigation that this will go through," Clare Enders of Enders
Analysis told BBC radio.
"It is a different situation and the entities have been
It will be up to Karen Bradley, the culture, media and sport
minister to decide whether the plurality situation has
materially changed since 2010.
"Will the government really say he can't own more than 39
percent of it? I don't think so," David Yelland, a former editor
of Murdoch's Sun newspaper, told Reuters.
"It takes a lot of negative energy to block a deal like this
and I just don't see it happening this time around."
(Reporting by James Davey and Kate Holton Editing by Jeremy