As expected, Britain's Office of Fair Trading has approved the $6 billion (€5.07bn; £3.49bn) merger of the nation's cable duopoly, NTL and Telewest Global.

The watchdog opined in a statement that that the test for referring the merger to the Competition Commission - the UK's senior competition arbiter - had not been met.

Although US-owned, with their shares traded in New York and many common shareholders, both companies' operations are confined to the British Isles where they jointly account for some five million homes - lagging the eight million households claimed by their sole pay-TV rival, News Corporation's BSkyB.

  • The latter also received a thumbs-up from the OFT, which approved its £211 million acquisition of internet specialist EasyNet. The purchase signals BSkyB's intention to broadcast some of its programmes via the internet - a channel seen by many as the future direction of broadcasting.

    Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff