Australian regulators turn on Murdoch

By Ian Dunt

Rupert Murdoch's bid to gain control of Australian pay TV operator Austar could be about to go the same way as his failed BSkyB deal.

The planned takeover by Foxtel, part-owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corp, has raised concerns with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has delayed the decision until September, citing concerns about competition.

"Foxtel and Austar are the only significant providers of subscription television services in Australia," the regulator said in a statement.

"The proposed merger would therefore effectively create a near monopoly subscription television provider across Australia."

The ACCC insisted the decision was not connected to events in the UK.

"[Phone-hacking] has nothing to do with it at all – not even a consideration," chairman Graeme Samuel said.

"This is solely addressed on issues on competition under section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act."

Whatever the reason, the news will come as a further blow to Mr Murdoch, who has watched his global media empire come under attack on several fronts since the scandal over alleged phone-hacking at the News of the World hit the front pages.