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Monday
Jul112011

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB Deal on Hold over Hacking Scandal 

Rupert Murdoch Chairman of News Corporation arrived back in London on July 10, 2011, to take personal charge of the phone-hacking scandal that felled his News of the World tabloid. MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The British government signaled Monday that it will delay -- and possibly halt -- Rupert Murdoch's $19 billion deal to purchase British Sky Broadcasting as a result of the outrage surrounding the growing scandal over his companies' journalistic practices. This is just the latest fallout from the phone hacking scandal at the media tycoon's recently-shuttered News of the World.

The announcement came from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt after News Corp. said it would no longer spin off Sky News, a condition that the government put in place for the company to purchase the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB that it does not currently own.

The British Competition Commission must now investigate whether the purchase would violate the country's anti-monopoly laws. The review could take up to six months.

If the deal goes through, it would give Murdoch 100 percent control of BSkyB and 40 percent ownership of all of British commercial TV. He already owns 37 percent of all newspapers in Great Britain.

BSkyB shares have lost about $3.7 billion since the scandal surrounding News of the World broke. Just last week the company's shares were trading as high as 850 pence on the London Stock Exchange. They were trading at just 716 pence per share today.

The takeover has been under extreme scrutiny following revelations of phone hacking and bribery at the now-defunct publication.

The latest details to emerge about the News of the World scandal came from the BBC which reports that former royal editor Clive Goodman requested cash from the paper's editor, Andy Coulson, to purchase a directory of royal telephone numbers and those of household staff for £1,000, about $1,594. The BBC reported that "the relevant email implies that a police officer in royal protection had stolen the directory, which is known as the Green Book," and was trying to sell it.

The BBC said other emails suggest the paper "had police contacts in a number of royal palaces, and had bought information from several of them."

The widening scandal has already resulted in three arrests and could lead to a dozen more by the end of the week, including several police officers who allegedly took regular bribes from the paper in exchange for news scoops, and Murdoch's son James Murdoch, a chairman at News International.

The best-selling News of the World weekly newspaper shut down after 168 years, leaving its 270-person staff without jobs after it became embroiled in an epidemic of criminal activity in pursuit of stories -- including allegedly hacking the voicemails of murder victims, terrorist victims and their families, not to mention a number of celebrities.

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ABC News Radio