Proposals to 'hive off Sky News riles rivals'

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News Corporation has held talks with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the possible separation of Sky News from BSkyB as a potential concession in the deal for Rupert Murdoch’s company to take hold of the 61 per cent of the broadcaster it does not already own, according to reports this morning.

However, the notion that News Corp could just hive off Sky News as a way of allowing it to get hold of BSkyB has gone down well with the company’s rivals.

The FT reported this morning that rivals told Hunt it would be ‘unacceptable’to ‘accelerate its proposed purchase of British Sky Broadcasting by divesting Sky News”.

That report claims Hunt received a letter from lawyers Slaughter and May, the solicitors representing BT, the Guardian Media Group, Daily Mail and General Trust, Trinity Mirror and the Telegraph Media Group, claming they had been prompted to write after reports that News Corp had considered hiving off Sky News as a possible remedy to threats to media plurality.

This morning’s Lex column questions whether anyone would even be interested in buying Sky News as it loses £30m-£40m a year before asking why Jeremy Hunt was ‘negotiating concessions in private but has not yet published Ofcom’s report into the deal”, saying that more transparency in Government was in everyone’s interest.

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