The European Commission said that the buyout would not “significantly impede effective competition”. The word “significantly” is pretty er significant here – it amounts to an admission that it will have some effect on competition. Hardly surprising considering the size and reach of News Corp and the dominance of Sky’s broadcasting services in the UK.
Despite the approval, the Commission said that the UK government is free to interfere with the decision to protect “media plurarlity”.
In addition to its stake of BSkyB, News Corp owns The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times.
Ofcom, the UK telecoms and broadcasting regulator, has launched an antitrust probe into News Corp’s expansion. It will make its decision before the end of the month, which could either back the Commission’s approval or reject it entirely.
News Corp already owns just over 39 percent of BSkyB and was offering £7.8 billion ($12.1 billion) to buy out the remaining 61 percent. BSkyB was not so keen, believing it is worth more, but negotiations were frozen until regulatory approval is completed. The Commission’s decision today is one further step in bringing Sky fully into Murdoch’s hands.