Whatever the penalty is for paying off policemen (and ProPublica suggests there could be issues related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or the SEC) it doesn't seem to me that it should prevent shareholders in a company unrelated to the bribery from selling what they own. But that's the punishment — without a trial — that seems to have been imposed on News Corp. The Associated Press reports from London: "Murdoch had hoped to gain control of the 61 percent of BSkyB shares that his News Corp. doesn't yet own, but the bid was delayed for several months while the British government's Competition Commission reviewed monopoly concerns." News Corp. reportedly dropped the bid today. Who is punished here? News Corp.? Or the owners of the 61% of BSkyB who had wanted to sell, but whose deal has now been torpedoed, in essence, by the British government? The idea that the British government, which itself uses tax revenues to fund the BBC's eight national television channels, is worried about Mr. Murdoch amassing a television monopoly is absurd. What about the BBC's monopoly? With online video, the entry barriers to television are getting lower by the day, anyway.
In Britain, the penalty for some people (police) selling something they didn't have the right to sell (information) seems to be that some other people who do have the right to sell something (BSkyB shareholders) are, in retribution, deprived of that right. It makes no sense.