Gov’t says NewsCorp/BSkyB decision could be delayed after NOTW closure

The government says culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision on whether NewsCorp can go ahead to take full control of BSkyB “will take some time”, following the News of the World’s closure.

The consultation on NewsCorp’s proposed undertakings to address competition concerns should it take over the 61% of BSkyB it does not own ends at 12pm today.

The undertakings include the hiving off of Sky News into a new publicly listed company that will be independently funded for 10 years and the requirement for Sky to cross-promote Sky News on its channels.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, says: “The secretary of state has always been clear that he will take as long as is needed to reach a decision.

“The secretary of state will consider carefully all the responses submitted and take advice from Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading before reaching his decision. Given the volume of responses, we anticipate that this will take some time.

“He will consider all relevant factors including whether the announcement regarding the News of the World’s closure has any impact on the question of media plurality.”

NewsCorp says it notes today’s comments and its priority is to continue to cooperate with the secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport and the existing regulatory process.

The News of the World closed yesterday after 168 years, following fresh allegations of phone hacking at the newspaper, fuelling speculation that a new Sunday red top is to be launched by News International.

NewsCorp’s shares dropped only slightly by 0.25% to $17.43 when they closed on the New York Stock Exchange last night, following the decision to close the Sunday tabloid.

Shares in BSkyB fell 4% to 779p this morning, devaluing the company by more than £700m.

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