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BSkyB to sell Sky News to clear hurdle for News Corp. buyout, BBC reports

March 2, 2011 |  1:04 pm

The British Sky Broadcasting Group plans to sell its 24-hour news channel to clear the way for regulatory approval of News Corp.'s planned takeover of the satellite TV operator, the BBC reports.

News Corp., which owns about about 40% of BSkyB, announced plans last summer to acquire the remaining stake in the United Kingdom's largest pay-TV operator for $21.3 billion. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said at the time that the acquisition would help reduce the company's reliance on cyclical ad revenue by increasing the amount of money it would receive from subscription fees.

Sky_News_2010 The deal met with opposition from a group of media companies, including the owners of the Guardian, Daily Mail and Telegraph newspapers, which contended that it would have "serious and far-reaching consequences for the media," because News Corp. already owns four of Britain's largest newspapers.

European regulators cleared the proposed acquisition in December; however the British government said it would give the matter heightened scrutiny to determine whether the concentration of media ownership would harm the public interest. One remedy regulators proposed was to divest some news assets or declare editorial independence for the 24-hour Sky News Channel.

The BBC said Wednesday that the BSkyB would sell off its Sky News division to win regulatory approval. Neither News Corp. nor BSkyB could be reached for comment.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski