Newspaper groups and telco BT have written to members of the UK parliament in hope of derailing Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of pay-TV giant BSkyB. Rival owners of the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and others are urging MPs to lobby Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom they hope might be persuaded to do a U-turn and refer News Corp.’s bid for the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own to the anti-trust regulator. Liberal Democrat MPs in particular are being targeted as they are the junior members in the ruling Coalition; their senior figure, Vince Cable, was ousted from the job of deciding the deal after telling two undercover newspaper reporters that he had “declared war on Mr. Murdoch.” In their letter, News Corp.’s rivals set out a battery of complaints about the conglomerate’s offer to spin off news channel Sky News into a separate company. Among them are that News Corp. will still be able to turn the financial screw on Sky News; that it has a history of undermining editorial independence with similar news operations like the Wall Street Journal and The Times of London; and that a two-week consultation period — which ends next Monday — is simply too short to scrutinize such a complex deal.
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