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Here’s UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt defending his decision to wave through News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB

And a pretty good job he makes of it although it’s still hard to see why he didn’t just kick the controversial deal by which Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation wants to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it doesn’t already own into the long grass (refer it to the Competition Commission) weeks ago.

Unless it was pressure from News who have watched BSkyB’s share price going up relentlessly.

I’m also not so sure that the advice he talks about receiving from media regulator Ofcom was quite as unambiguous as he says it was. The other interested party, the about-to-be abolished Office of Fair Trading was certainly not enthusiastic.

Does it matter? Well Sky News is certainly not going to be allowed to become a UK version of Fox News, for seven years anyway while Hunt’s arrangements stay in place. So that’s a good thing.

But this deal, or rather the freedom for News to try to strike the deal to buy the whole of BSkyB, was always going to go through.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle and the little so-and-so escaped when a previous Tory government allowed Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Sun and the News of the World, to buy The Times and the Sunday Times all those years ago.

But Rupert Murdoch may still be confounded on price. Greedy hedge funds and other opportunists have piled into BSkyB forcing the price up to about 850p a share, way beyond Murdoch’s top whack of 800p.

The fun might just be starting.

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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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