The European Commission has today unconditionally approved News Corporation‘s proposal to assume full control of BSkyB, ruling that the takeover would not be anti-competitive.
The Commission, which assessed the bid solely on competition grounds, concluded that it would ‘not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it”.
Joaquin Almunia, commission vice-president and commissioner for competition, said: “I am confident that this merger will not weaken competition in the UK. The effects on media plurality are a matter for the UK authorities.”
Broadcast regulator Ofcom is due to report to business secretary Vince Cable by the end of the year with recommendations from a separate investigation into the possible media plurality issues arising from the planned takeover.
Cable said: ‘I have seen the results of the competition enquiry by The European Commission into the effect of the proposed merger of BskyB and Newscorp.
“Whilst it has found there are no issues on competition grounds, the EC’s decisions on this are independent from the outcome of the separate UK investigation into the merger’s potential impact on the sufficiency of media plurality within the UK.
“Ofcom are due to report into this separate matter by the end of this month.
“I will review their findings once Parliament returns and I will then take the decision on whether this case needs to be referred to the Competition Commission for a full investigation.”
News Corporation said it ‘welcomes today’s decision by the European Commission clearing unconditionally its proposed acquisition of the shares in BSkyB that it does not already own”.
The Commission said its ruling was passed ‘without prejudice’to the ongoing investigation by the UK authorities of whether the proposed transaction is compatible with the UK interest in media plurality.