LibLink: Vince Cable: Why the Murdochs’ takeover of BSkyB should be blocked

It’s like 2010 all over again.

The intervening years have not made Vince Cable any more amenable to Rupert Murdoch and his Empire.

He’s been writing in the Evening Standard explaining why the Murdochs should not be able to takeover BSkyB.

The grounds for opposing the takeover are two-fold. The first is that concentration of media ownership is already a concern and will become worse if the takeover goes ahead. The Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox is the leading supplier of newspaper content (through The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times), the leading supplier of news content through commercial radio and the third-leading supplier of TV content via Sky. While there has been a proliferation of internet sites carrying news, few of these generate content; they are aggregators for the big players…

And that’s before we even think about the “fit and proper person” test.

In 2012 Ofcom issued a damning report on the conduct of James Murdoch, then chairman of News International, about his attitude towards the egregious wrongdoing identified in the phone hacking scandal, as forensically probed in the Leveson Inquiry. Ofcom concluded that Sky should be regarded as “fit and proper” to hold a broadcast licence only if there was minority Murdoch control of Sky, and if James Murdoch was not in an executive role. But the takeover will result in 100 per cent control and Murdoch will be chief executive. When last in the Sky studios, staff told me there is a beautifully appointed office with a marble-topped table and specially designed chairs awaiting his arrival.

And the wrongdoing at the News of the World was — it emerged — considerably worse than when the 2012 report was written. Since that damning Ofcom judgment there are even bigger reasons for questioning the corporate governance arrangements over which Murdoch presided. Since 2012 there has been a succession of sexual and racial harassment cases at 21st Century Fox.

He concludes:

The issues around the Fox-Sky bid are as technically and legally complex as they are politically significant. While the European Commission has shown some resolve in tackling Google, Amazon and Facebook, British ministers have yet to prove themselves able and willing to stand up to the corporate giants in the communications industry. Only if the British Government were to subject the Fox/Sky takeover to a full competition review — rather than acquiescing in the takeover — would it demonstrate that “taking back control” has a purpose.

You can read the whole article here.

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4 Comments

  • We must not let this man and his descendants to extend their power for the sake of their ambitions to become even wealthier. This is a man that made the Thatcher government, made the Blair government, and whose cronies kept suppressed evidence of our growing strength during the 2010 election with the purpose of damaging our support, doing their very best to stop our vote growing to the point where we might have become a truly major force in British politics. This is an Australian, now a US citizen, who already wields massive, indefensible power. Freedom of the press? More power in his and his sons’ hands to influence further elections in countries other than his, more likely.

  • Now, its true I have just been listening via the internet (with a degree of distaste ) to the ‘little Englander’ Nigel Farage’s talkback show on LBC Radio. I may live in Melbourne, Australia, but his views have not improved my mood. He has been discussing whether Blair’s views apparently supporting a potential second referendum are valid (personally I agree with him that they are not, despite the level of deceit involved in the ‘no’ campaign, as the people have now spoken) and further, whether May should go. I hope she stays; better, I think, for our chances as LDs next time around. For the record, I was a big supporter of ‘Remain’. But we now have to make the most of a bad result and try to get as reasonable a deal as possible. I’m off-topic, I know, but don’t even get me started on Boris Johnson..grrr

  • John Littler 10th Sep '17 - 1:19pm

    The country cannot allowed to plod on and fall into an economic and social abyss, just because of a narrow restricted and advisory vote turning on 1.9% either way.

    No one suggests a re-run of that directional vote, even though we have already had two of them, but the fairy tale fictions promised by the Leave side are withdrawn every week and the best they now seem to offer is survival or muddling continuity.
    They said it would be better, they said the UK held all the cards, that it would be quick and simple to leave, that there would be huge savings and that German firms would force the agenda towards a something for nothing free trade deal with the UK. Instead all the cautious and informed voices on the Remain side have been found to be correct.

    Much as these stupid votes are divisive and dreadful, the only way to deal with this will be a vote on the outcome when we know what is on offer. Democracy is continuous and it would be visited upon in General Election anyway. A democracy can change it’s mind or is not democratic.

  • Peter Hirst 12th Sep '17 - 1:57pm

    Might I use this post to promote independent local newspapers of which we have one in this constituency of Congleton. It, The Congleton Chronicle always prints my letters, is full of local news and opinion and you can actually copy and paste virtually anything that makes writing letters easier. The others are owned by large conglomerates, Newquest and TrinityMirror. They do not provide an online edition and do not not always print letters. And of course Murdoch should be prevented from taking over BSkyB. A diffuse independent media ownership is essential to a flourishing democracy.

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