Posts Tagged ‘News Corp bid for BSkyB’

Hunt memo proves David Cameron manipulated the BSkyB bid process to favour the Murdochs

25/05/2012, 09:27:51 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Although the media focus this morning is still on Jeremy Hunt, the real story should be about David Cameron’s conduct.  The reason? The already infamous Hunt memo to Cameron, from November 2010, is a game-changer.

For the first time there is clear evidence that the prime minister, as opposed to a junior cabinet minister or special adviser, directly manipulated the quasi-judicial process considering News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, in favour of the Murdochs.

When David Cameron stripped Vince Cable of responsibility for adjudicating on the bid in December 2010, he understood he would face a problem in simply handing over the process to Jeremy Hunt at DCMS.

Hunt was well-known as an admirer of News Corporation: while in opposition he had given a breathless interview to Broadcast magazine where he had eulogised about Rupert Murdoch,

“Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day”.

Shortly after Hunt became secretary of state, he had followed-up in June 2010 in an interview with the Financial Times where he speculated on the BSkyB bid,

“It does seem to me that News Corp do control Sky already, so it isn’t clear to me that in terms of media plurality there is a substantive change, but I don’t want to second guess what regulators might decide.”

Cameron knew these comments would inevitably surface and be used by Labour to challenge Hunt’s ability to manage the process impartially. The prime minister needed cover for his decision and turned to his cabinet secretary, who duly obliged.


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Watson formally requests Hunt to re-refer News Corp bid for BSkyB to Ofcom, on new grounds

24/01/2011, 07:03:19 PM

Tom Watson MP

House of Commons

London, SW1A 0AA

The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State
Department for Culture, Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street

24 January 2011

Dear Jeremy,

In light of recent revelations I write to ask you to commission a further report from Ofcom, concerning the bid for BSkyB by Rupert and James Murdoch’s News Corp.

As you know, the News Corp proposal was investigated by Ofcom under the public interest provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002. There are three sub-clauses: ‘plurality’, ‘range of broadcasting’ and ‘commitment to broadcasting standards’. The original referral only looked at ‘plurality’.

I would like the transaction investigated under the ‘broadcasting standards’ category.

Section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002 provides the Specified Considerations of which 2 C specifies:

“The need for persons carrying on media enterprises, and for those with control of such enterprises, to have a genuine commitment to the attainment in relation to broadcasting of the standards objectives set out in section 319 of the Communications Act 2003”.

Section 319 of the Communications Act contains the Ofcom code.

Paragraph 2 a) states “that persons under the age of 18 are protected”.

Paragraph 2 b) of the code states “that material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services”.

Paragraph 2 d) of the code “that news included in television and radio services is reported with due accuracy”.

The investigation is entitled to study whether the acquirer has shown evidence of bad practice in its other media companies.

In terms of generally criminal conduct; you will well know of the News of the World’s industrial use of material acquired by illegal phone-hacking.  Two individuals formerly employed by the News of the World have been imprisoned for offences related to this practice and two current employees are suspended following material obtained by civil actions against the newspaper.  The police have re-referred the matter to the CPS. There is no doubt that there is much more yet to come to reveal the extent of the activities. (more…)

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