Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has withdrawn its bid to buy full control of Britain’s largest pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB.
The deal, worth more than eight billion euros, was scrapped just as the UK parliament was preparing to vote against it. The vote would not have been binding but the political pressure would have almost certainly been enough to stop the takeover in its tracks.
Murdoch’s media interests have been rocked by a phone hacking scandal at one of his UK newspapers, the flagship Sunday tabloid, the News of the World. Allegations that journalists had hacked into the voicemails of missing schoolgirls and the families of dead soldiers had prompted MPs of all parties to take a stand against Murdoch’s planned increase in influence over the British media.
News Corp already owns 39 percent of BSkyB but wanted to buy the remaining 61 percent to consolidate its strategic digital operations and benefit from the broadcaster’s rising revenues.
Announcing the withdrawal of the bid, News Corp CEO Chase Carey said “It has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate. News Corp remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has faced awkward questions about his own relations with Murdoch, welcomed the news: “The business should focus on clearing up the mess and getting its own house in order,” he said through a spokesman.
Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was a victory for those who had opposed the extension of Murdoch’s power.