Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is expected to be told this week that regulators in Brussels have no objections to its £7.8 billion bid to buy BSkyB, according to press reports.
Sources close to the deal told The Sunday Telegraph that the European Commission (EC), which set itself a deadline of December 22 to report on the impact of the proposed deal, have not found any significant competition problems.
But the deal will still come under the scrutiny of industry regulator Ofcom, which will decide by 31 December whether to refer the bid to the Competition Commission.
News Corporation, which owns The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World in the UK, wants to buy the 61% stake of BSkyB it doesn’t already own.
The EC’s investigation, which focused purely on anti-trust issues, scrutinised the advertising market in particular on the back of concerns that a single owner of Sky Deutsche, Sky Italia and Sky in the UK would be too dominant.
The source told the newspaper that although the EC could not see any major problems, it had not made a final decision and could still be changed at the last minute.
Business secretary Vince Cable ordered Ofcom to carry out a media plurality test on the deal following an outcry from media groups, including the BBC and Channel 4.
Concerns have been raised about the advertising strength of the combined group within the UK market and about “bundling” of television and newspaper products.
In a submission to regulator Ofcom, BSkyB said there could be less choice of independent news if the Government blocked News Corporation’s bid.
Rejecting a takeover on the grounds of it reducing the number of independent voices in the market “could perversely increase the risk of that very situation”, it said.