UK Government revises undertakings in News Corp/BSkyB merger

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (the DCMS) has amended the proposed undertakings to be offered by News Corporation (News Corp) as part of its planned merger with BSkyB.

In January 2011, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport announced that he considered that the planned merger may operate against the public interest in media plurality and, accordingly, intended to refer the merger to the Competition Commission (the CC). However, before making a reference, the Secretary of State indicated he would consider whether undertakings in lieu proposed by News Corp could prevent or mitigate the adverse effects to the public interest.

The changes, announced on 30 June 2011, come after a consultation on News Corp's original proposals, which included the "spinning off" of Sky News into an independent company. The DCMS received more than 40,000 replies to the consultation, but none caused Ofcom or the Office of Fair Trading (the OFT) to alter their advice that the undertakings were viable for 10 years and addressed concerns about media plurality. However, the revised undertakings incorporate suggestions that, the DCMS says, will make them "more robust". They include proposals for an independent director with senior journalism expertise to sit on the board of Sky News, and for a monitoring trustee to be appointed to ensure that News Corporation compiles with the undertakings.

The deadline for responses to the revised undertakings is midday on 8 July 2011.