News Corp Wins ConLib Approval For Sky Takeover

The biggest non-news story of the week was culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’;s decision to allow News Corporation to go ahead with its proposed takeover of BSkyB.

Hunt, who has long been sympathetic to the deal, has decided that handing Rupert Murdoch’;s media empire total control of Sky is not a threat to the public interest, despite the fact that he also controls 40% of the newspaper market via The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun and The News of the World.

Conscious that he was likely to face flak for his decision, Hunt has attached a condition to the deal, which is that BSkyB must split off Sky News into an independently managed business. However this has done little to assuage the anger of Murdoch’;s competitors – which point to the fact that regulator Ofcom suggested it could reduce plurality.

The government’;s handling of the issue has left a lot to be desired, and ended this week with a rebuke for Hunt from the Commons Speaker John Bercow. Bercow criticised Hunt for agreeing to be interviewed by Sky before he delivered details of the deal to MPs. The Speaker called it a “disappointment” that the interview appeared on air before MPs were informed. Hunt said: “I am prepared to apologise if there’;s any element of procedure I have not followed correctly.”

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