Cable holds key in Murdoch's bid to own BSkyB

A battle royale continues in the UK media, with journalists and other rivals strongly opposing Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp's bid to wholly take over British Sky Broadcasting Plc (BSkyB), the country's biggest pay TV operator.

Some lawyers reportedly today said News Corp's delay in notifying the European Union about the planned takeover of BSkyB suggests it is seeking to avoid a UK government challenge.

News Corp, which four months ago made an offer for the 61 per cent stake in BSkyB it didn't already own, is trying to ward off a potential challenge from UK business secretary Vince Cable over concerns the New York-based company may harm the public interest by expanding its control of UK media outlets.

News Corp made its initial 7.8 billion-pound ($12.45 billion) offer for BSkyB conditional on winning regulatory approval. The delay has allowed opposition to mount, with UK newspapers, the British Broadcasting Corp and phone operator BT Group Plc this week sending a joint letter asking Cable to block the merger.

They argue that given Murdoch's newspaper empire, the move could reduce diversity in the industry.

The signatories include the heads of the BBC and Channel 4. Chief executives of newspaper groups, including the Telegraph, the Mail, the Guardian and the Mirror, also signed.