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Cable refers Sky takeover bid to Ofcom

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Business secretary Vince Cable has asked media regulator Ofcom to examine News Corporation's £12 billion bid to take full control of Sky, it has emerged.

Cable has responded to pressure from the UK media industry by issuing an intervention notice under the Enterprise Act ordering Ofcom to investigate the transaction on grounds of public interest.

"On the basis of the information and submissions available to me, I have decided that it is appropriate to issue an intervention notice in this particular case," said Cable.

"The independent experts at Ofcom will now investigate and report to me on the media plurality issues that may arise from this proposed acquisition."

Ofcom now has until December 31 to compile a report on the impact of the proposed takeover on media plurality in the UK. Cable will then decide whether to refer the case to the Competition Commission.

Yesterday, News Corp notified the European Commission that it wants to acquire the 61% of pay-TV operator Sky that it does not already own.

The Commission is now conducting an initial review of the deal on grounds of its potential impact on competition across Europe. It will report back before December 8 on whether a more in-depth investigation will be launched.

Regulators are primarily concerned about the size of the enlarged company should News Corp be allowed to fully acquire Sky, as it would include four major national newspapers and a broadcaster boasting annual profits of more than £1 billion.

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