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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 15:44 GMT
Murdoch's TV dreams 'to be dashed'
The Sun
Rupert Murdoch owns Britain's bestsellling daily paper
The government plans to thwart any plans media tycoon Rupert Murdoch may have to expand into the UK terrestrial TV market, according to reports.

Mr Murdoch, who already owns several of the country's biggest newspapers, is understood to be keen to expand his UK radio and TV interests, possibly by buying ITV or Channel 5.

Murdoch's News Corp also owns the Fox network
Murdoch's News Corp also owns the Fox network

But the Financial Times says the draft version of the government's Communications Bill will preserve the existing rules on newspaper proprietors owning TV stations.

At present, no group which owns more than 20% of the national newspaper market may own more than 20% of a free-to-air TV or radio broadcaster.

The new legislation on cross-media ownership is expected in late April.

The FT quotes an unnamed minister as saying: "There are real worries about newspapers getting together with radio and TV ownership because there would be difficulties as far as editorial independence was concerned."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on the FT's claim.

ITV Digital's Monkey and Johnny Vegas
BSkyB has been mooted as a saviour for ITV Digital

A spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "Ministers are still looking at responses to the consultation, and those will be fed into the draft Communications Bill."

Mr Murdoch's News Corporation also declined to comment.

The corporation is expected to vigorously lobby the government to clear the way for a potential move into terrestrial television.

One effect of Mr Murdoch's being locked out of the terrestrial market would be to deepen the uncertainty over the future of troubled ITV Digital.

His television company BSkyB has been viewed as a possible saviour of the digital terrestrial broadcaster.

See also:

13 Mar 02 | Business
Digital TV breakdown
28 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Murdoch: Still going strong at 70
20 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Murdoch wins China cable TV deal
16 Aug 01 | Business
Murdoch's News Corp profits fall
16 Jul 01 | Entertainment
Murdoch heads media power list
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