News Corp. has abandoned its bid for Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV satellite television service after company parent General Motors failed to choose a buyer. Speculation that GM's board of directors would select between News Corp. and rival bidder EchoStar Communications came to naught over the weekend. The board made no decision.

In a statement issued Saturday evening, News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said the company would immediately withdraw its bid, expressing his chagrin that 'a one-of-a-kind global multimedia company' did not come to pass. News Corp. sought to merge the DirecTV business with the European, South American and Asian operations of its Sky Global network.

Taking a dig at the competition, the statement continued: "Hughes would have been an excellent strategic fit for our global platforms and we are disappointed with the board's inaction in the face of an as yet unfinanced counter proposal.' Colorado-based EchoStar's counter bid for Hughes would be worth as much as $31.5 billion. Details of the News Corp. bid have not been disclosed.

Alone in the field it may be but EchoStar remains an unlikely choice because of Federal Communications Commission concerns about a monopoly. The combination of the DirecTV's 10 million subscribers with EchoStar's more than 6.3 million subscribers would create a market monster.