Vince Cable intervenes in News Corp BSkyB bid

Business Secretary Vince Cable today said he was intervening in News Corp's £12 billion bid to take control of broadcasting giant BSkyB and would refer the plans to regulator Ofcom.





Mr Cable stepped in on public interest grounds over media plurality following mounting pressure from rival media groups after Rupert Murdoch's News Corp made an offer for the 61% of BSkyB that it does not already own.



The intervention notice served requires Ofcom to investigate the proposals and report back by December 31.









Mr Cable said he made the move after submissions and information regarding News Corp's approach.



British media groups - including national newspaper owners and broadcasters - recently joined forces to petition Mr Cable to block the plans over fears the deal posed a threat to competition and media plurality.



News Corp's rivals argue the takeover would create an organisation of unrivalled power in the UK media sector.



If the deal went ahead, News Corp would have a dominant position in newspapers, owning UK titles including The Times and The Sun, while also having full ownership of a pay TV company - an empire with an estimated turnover of £7.5 billion.



Mr Cable said: "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.



"The independent experts at Ofcom will now investigate and report to me on the media plurality issues that may arise from this proposed acquisition."



The European Commission was notified formally yesterday of the bid and will launch a probe looking at competition issues, to publish a report on December 8.



Mr Cable will decide whether to refer the matter to the UK's Competition Commission once he has Ofcom's report at the end of the year.



But the commission would only consider the potential impact on public interest, given the European Commission's inquiry on competition grounds.









News Corp's aims to take BSkyB private were first revealed in June when Sky said it had rebuffed an initial approach.



The 700p-a-share proposal valued FTSE 100 listed BSkyB at around £12 billion.



Sky said it significantly undervalued the business and called for an offer in excess of 800p a share.



Despite their differences over price, the two parties agreed to begin work on the regulatory process required for a tie-up.



The proposals are seen as a test of the Government's attitude to media consolidation and the power of the Murdoch empire.



It is thought the coalition government has been split on its approach to the proposals, with Conservative ministers understood to be more relaxed over Mr Murdoch's move than Mr Cable and other Liberal Democrats.



Labour also stepped in ahead of today's announcement, calling for Mr Cable to intervene.



Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis said: "Rupert Murdoch and BSkyB have been a force for good in improving the quality of broadcasting for British consumers and stimulating investment in our creative industries.



"But the Murdoch empire has sometimes crossed reasonable boundaries with overzealous business practices and the assertion of political power.



"There is a case to answer, and the public interest can only be determined through proper scrutiny by the competent authorities."



He added: "It is important for democracy in Britain that the power to influence opinion and shape debate is in the hands of a broad range of organisations and prevents any one organisation dominating the landscape."



News Corp has been a major shareholder of BSkyB since the launch of the broadcaster in 1989. It currently owns 39.1% of the company.



Mr Murdoch's son James is BSkyB's chairman and a senior executive at News Corp, but is not involved in the bid process.







News Corp said it was "confident that the proposed investment will not adversely affect media plurality" in the UK.



It added the group "looks forward to discussing any substantive issues with the relevant authorities".



BSkyB issued a brief statement, saying only that it "notes" Mr Cable's announcement.



But there was praise for the Business Secretary's decision among trade unions.



TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Vince Cable has done the right thing today.



"This decision was a key test for the new Government. This was not just about whether it will stand up to the Murdoch business empire, but whether it will adopt a more robust approach to mergers and acquisitions in general."







Asked whether Prime Minister David Cameron supported Mr Cable's decision, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "He is a member of the Government. He supports the decisions made by his Cabinet."



She added: "The Prime Minister is already on the record as saying this is a matter for the Business Secretary. The Business Secretary has made his decision and it is now a matter for Ofcom. The Prime Minister is fully aware of the decision being made."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary