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Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt says yes to Murdoch offer to park Sky News so he can buy BSkyB

Rupert Murdoch has won the first battle of his campaign to take over the 61 per cent of UK pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB he doesn’t already own by persuading coalition government culture secretary he doesn’t need to block the bid.

Not that Hunt needed much persuading, he’s already bent over backwards to allow Murdoch’s News Corporation time to come up with concessions so its bid doesn’t need to go the UK Competition Commission.

The bid was opposed by a gaggle of UK media owners and many others besides on the grounds of ‘plurality’, the fear that Sky News, generally much-admired for its punchy independence, would become a Murdoch patsy in the event of full News takeover of Sky.

Now Murdoch has agreed an exclusive deal for Sky News as supplier to BSkyB and a fixed sum to pay for this independent status. There’ll be an editorial board and all that stuff to try to keep Sky News on the straight and narrow.

All plain sailing for Rupert then? Not necessarily. News’ first bid for BSkyB was 700p a share (valuing the whole company at £13.2bn). BSkyB’s directors said they wouldn’t look at anything less than 800p.

But today BSkyB shares are trading at 795 and that’s in a jittery market fearful of more oil price shocks as Tony Blair’s chum Colonel Gadaffi fights back in Libya.

Murdoch won’t walk away from this one. But he’ll be lucky if he gets BSkyB for less than £10 a share.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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