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) -- The Church of England is joining a number of

British Sky Broadcasting Group's

rival news outlets in opposing

News Corporation's


bid to take over the U.K.-based pay TV operator


News Corp. currently owns 39% of BSkyB and is looking to buy the remaining 61%. The BSkyB board rejected New Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch's initial offer of 7.8 billion pounds, or about $12.4 billion at current exchange, which he made in June.

The deal's challengers are arguing that News Corp. and Murdoch may be gaining too much control of the British media.

Murdoch's company already owns four major U.K. newspapers, including the nation's largest publication,

News of the World

. By acquiring Sky, News Corp. would gain its 10 million customers, or close to 66% of pay TV subscribers in the U.K.

In an official statement on the

church's Web site

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, Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch explained if News Corp. owned BSkyB it would control the three major TV news suppliers in the U.K., including BBC and Independent Television News.

The acquisition would allow News Corp to "dominate both the television and media landscape," McCulloch said. "There would always be the potential for the exercise of subtle editorial influence, not least in the process of selecting which news items are to be covered and which left out."

While he opposes the possible takeover, McCulloch said that if the deal goes through the company should provide the public "an assurance that the independence and editorial integrity of Sky News will be preserved."

A few weeks ago

U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable ordered

that the Office of Communications, the U.K. broadcast regulator, step in and investigate. Cable has requested that OFCOM complete a review by Dec. 31.

The European Commission is also conducting a review of the possible deal to be completed by Dec. 8, unless the Commission decides to conduct a longer "phase II" investigation, which could take 125 additional days.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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>>News Corp. Announces BSkyB Takeover Bid

>>U.K. to Probe Murdoch's BSkyB Takeover Bid

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