Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has delayed referring News Corp’s bid to buy BSkyB to the Competition Commission to consider “undertakings in lieu” from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Hunt said he considered the current merger plans to be “against the public interest in media plurality”.
However, News Corp is looking to offer a compromise “which it contends could significantly alleviate the concerns I have such that I should accept the undertakings instead of making a reference,” said Hunt.
The Guardian reported that the undertakings relate to editorial guarantees for Sky News.
“If this process produces undertakings in lieu which I believe will prevent or otherwise mitigate the merger from having effects adverse to the public interest, and which I propose to accept, I will then publish the undertakings in lieu and begin a formal 15-day consultation period during which time all interested parties will be able to express their views,” Hunt said.
If the two parties reach some common ground, that could happen in a matter of weeks. Hunt will consult Ofcom before making his decision though and if it is referred to the Competition Commission, News Corp could be kept waiting for another six months.