Government approves News Corp plan for Sky News
Many constituents have been in touch over the last six months with their concerns about the bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to take total control of BSkyB.
You may have seen today’s news that Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has approved News Corporation’s plan to spin off Sky News, clearing the way for its proposed £8bn purchase of the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own.
I imagine that many constituents will be concerned by this news. I have raised my concerns on this issue before – for example see online here – and raised the issue with government ministers.
In response to today’s news, Labour’s shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis has promised rigorous scrutiny of the plan for the new Sky News company and expressed continued concern about the transparency of the decision-making process in Jeremy Hunt’s approval of Newscorp’s bid for BSkyB. He said:
“This U-turn by Jeremy Hunt will raise further concerns about the transparency of the process. Four weeks ago, he was minded to refer the deal to the Competition Commission. Now he has changed his mind.
“During the consultation process we will engage with all parties to scrutinise the details of the proposal to turn Sky News into a listed company.
“We will test its impact against OFCOM’s original concerns about the balance of control in UK news and current affairs. Public interest not political expediency will determine our judgment on whether this revised package goes far enough to avoid the need for a Competition Commission enquiry.”
The government has launched a consultation on whether the undertakings in lieu are sufficient to remedy, mitigate or prevent the public interest concerns in relation to media plurality raised by this merger. This closes on 21st March and you can find details online at www.culture.gov.uk/consultations/7887.aspx.
I will be writing to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to raise the issue and pass on the concerns of the numerous constituents who have already contacted me today.