Murdoch's new Sky bid should be probed, UK opposition politicians say

Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:59am EST
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By James Davey and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's new takeover approach for British pay-TV firm Sky should be investigated by the UK's competition authorities, according to opposition politicians, though analysts said a deal should be easier to get through this time round.

Liberal Democrat 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 interest.

Cable referred Murdoch's original bid to regulator Ofcom and said his latest offer should face the same scrutiny.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party and a critic of the Murdoch business family, also called on regulators to be ready to properly vet the deal - but did not oppose it outright.

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 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 Britain'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 newspaper.

Cable said the issue was the same five years on.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: Vince Cable during a keynote speech on the second day of Liberal Democrat party's spring conference in Liverpool, northern England, March 14, 2015.  REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files