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Murdoch Snr to lead Hunt talks

January 26, 2011

Rupert Murdoch has cancelled a visit to the Davos economic summit to personally lead negotiations with UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, as News Corp seeks to offer guarantees to safeguard Sky News independence and win approval for its complete takeover of BskyB.

Following publication of the Ofcom report recommending a referral to the Competition Commission, Hunt said he considered that News Corp’s buyout of the 61 per cent of BSkyB it did not already own might “operate against the public interest in media plurality”; and he intended to refer the matter to the Competition Commission. But he added he would consider undertakings from News Corp that if they “could sufficiently alleviate (his) concerns” a referral might be avoided.

There could now be several days of direct negotiation between Hunt, who will be advised by the Office of Fair Trading, and News Corporation. The Guardian – a fierce critic of the deal – reports that Rupert Murdoch will lead these talks for News Corp.

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