August 18, 2022

DealBook: News Corp. Deal for BSkyB in Limbo

Television screens in an electronics store in Edinburgh, Scotland are tuned in to a Sky News broacast.David Moir/ReutersTelevision screens in an electronics store in Edinburgh, Scotland are tuned in to a Sky News broacast.

News Corporation’s deal to buy the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting is in limbo.

Amid the widening phone-hacking controversy at the media empire, British officials indicated on Friday that it could take awhile to assess the proposed acquisition of BSkyB, sending shares of the broadcaster plummeting even further.

The stock has been in a free-fall this week as the new details emerged about controversy. Shares are down nearly 7 percent since Monday.

News Corp. announced on Thursday that it would shutter The News of the World, the tabloid at the center of the scandal. On Friday, police arrested a former editor of the newspaper, and Prime Minister David Cameron announced two separate inquiries into the matter.

The public had until Friday to submit their views on the acquisition. Avaaz, an advocacy organization that runs online campaigns, had more than 375,000 signatures on a petition submitted to block the BSkyB deal by the deadline.

The ministry also received about 156,000 individual submissions, as well as a paper petition bearing around 100,000 signatures, a person familiar with the matter said, calling the consultation “exceptional.”

With a flood of responses, the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is saying it could take awhile to make a decision on the BSkyB deal.

The ministry will “consider carefully all the responses submitted,” the agency said in a statement on Friday. “Given the volume of responses, we anticipate that this will take some time.”

Mr. Cameron echoed the thoughts in a news conference on Friday. He said he simply that Mr. Hunt was following “the proper legal processes and procedures,” and that “this will take some time.”

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