News Corp is expected to begin the formal bid process for BSkyB this week with a formal notification to the European Union of its intention to buy the 61 per cent of the company it doesn’t already own. This step will give British ministers about two weeks to decide whether to refer the bid to Ofcom for a review on public interest grounds.
Rival media owners and the BBC have been pressuring Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, to make a referral on the grounds if media plurality. If there is a referral an initial review would take two months with the likelihood of a full review running into next summer.
According to the Sunday Times, a News Corp newspaper, the company has already laid the ground with Europe negotiating over the details of the deal for several months. The power to block the deal on competition grounds now rests with Europe.