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Murdoch reveals new bid for DirecTV

LONDON – Rupert Murdoch has revealed he is preparing a new bid for US satellite television company DirecTV, after he lost out at the 11th hour last year to a $18bn (£11.4bn) bid from rival Echostar.

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The News Corporation chairman told the Sunday Express that should General Motors sell its shares in Hughes Electronics, which owns DirecTV, he would be interested in buying them.

"When the time comes around, and if General Motors decides to sell its shares, then I have an interest. But my interest would be at the right price. We're not holding our breath," he told the paper.

EchoStar trumped Murdoch at the last moment last year after he had spent 18 months stalking DirecTV. EchoStar's bid has now run into competition problems and looks likely to be blocked by US regulators. With the US Department of Justice and 23 states trying to block the deal, many believe it will fall through very soon.

EchoStar's bid has already been rejected by the Federal Communications Commission, which said that it was not in the public interest because a merger between EchoStar and DirecTV would have 18.2m subscribers, comprising more than 95% of the US satellite TV market.

The news of a possible Murdoch bid follows the reports earlier this month that News Corp raised around $1.3bn via a stock offering in Fox Entertainment Group. The money could be used to start new talks with General Motors about merging DirecTV into News Corporation's satellite TV operations, which also include BSkyB.

Murdoch's US ambitions were dashed last year when EchoStar made a $18bn bid for DirecTV, after Murdoch had been negotiating with EchoStar parent Hughes, part of General Motors, for almost a year.

The acquisition of DirecTV would cement News Corp's global television empire. Earlier this year, it and its Italian partner Telecom Italia paid $889m for the Italian pay-TV unit Telepiu, owned by troubled Vivendi Universal, to create Sky Italia, which is now the dominant pay-TV firm in Italy.

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