Thursday, 3 March 2011

Media Mogul Gets BSkyB

Jeremy Hunt has given Murdoch the go ahead

By Ben Aulakh

Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has been given the green light to take over British Sky Broadcasting.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given his approval for Murdoch's company, NewsCorp, to assume a majority 61 per cent share of the satellite broadcaster.

The British Media regulator, Ofcom, had wanted the deal referred to the Competition Commission, due to Mr Murdoch’s ownership of The Times newspaper, and The Sun and News of the World tabloids.

However the European Commission had made it clear that they saw no reason to oppose the deal, which could potentially be worth around £9.1 billion.

There has been fierce opposition to the agreement from The Media Alliance, and The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

A statement on the Campaign’s website said, “The planned News Corp/BSkyB takeover has triggered intense public opposition, with UK media groups aware of the threat the sheer size of such a company would pose.

“Rupert Murdoch has also exploited his vast global media empire to push war in Iraq and he undermines democracy by smearing politicians who act against his wishes.”

The Campaign also attacked the decision, citing the recent phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World, which they said ‘penetrates into politics, the police and every nook and cranny of public life.’

The former Business Secretary Vince cable had been expected to oppose the takeover, however control over the decision was taken from him after he was recorded telling undercover journalists that he had ‘declared war’ on Murdoch.

A potential sweetener which may have greased the wheels of the process is the magnate’s offer to spin off Sky News as an independent company.

A spokesman for the Media Alliance, a group representing the biggest news corporations in the UK said, “We deeply regret the fact that the Mr Hunt is minded to clear the deal.

“The undertaking does nothing to address the profound concerns that the takeover would give News Corporation greater power to restrict or distort the advertising market with cross-platform deals.”

“We shall be vigorously contesting this whitewash of a proposal, examining all legal options.”

Photograph from JDFirth

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