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Ofcom says NewsCorp's Sky bid should go to Competition Commission

Robert Peston | 11:15 UK time, Thursday, 13 January 2011

I am as sure as I can be that Ofcom has made an unambiguous recommendation that NewsCorp's plan to acquire all of British Sky Broadcasting should be referred to the Competition Commission for further investigation.

Sky headquarters

I have come to this view having had a number of conversations with sources close to the media regulator, to News Corporation and to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, which received Ofcom's report on the proposed £7.5bn deal on the last day of 2010.

What I don't understand is why Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has not simply published the report and announced that there will be a further Competition Commission enquiry into whether the takeover restricts plurality in the media (or choice for viewers and readers).

Instead, he is having talks with BSkyB and with News Corporation (which already owns 39% of Sky and various British newspapers, including the Sun and Times), as the Guardian disclosed a few days ago.

What is there for Mr Hunt to talk to NewsCorp and Sky about, if - as I say - Ofcom's advice is clear and unambiguous?

Although under the law, Mr Hunt has discretion whether or not to make the reference to the Competition Commission, his colleagues told me some time ago that he would not exercise this discretion, if the advice from Ofcom was categoric - which it is.

So some might say that it is a bit odd that he is talking to Sky and News.

Is Mr Hunt doing so to ward off any possible legal challenge from NewsCorp to a decision to order a further enquiry?

That's possible, though it is difficult to see how there could be such an appeal from NewsCorp, if Ofcom has done its job properly.

Is Mr Hunt seeing whether some kind of deal can be cut that would meet Ofcom's concerns and allow the takeover to go through without the need for a reference to Competition Commission?

If that were the case, Mr Hunt would lay himself open to the charge of being too kind to NewsCorp - which presumably he would not wish to do.

After all, Vince Cable was stripped of his responsibility to adjudicate on the takeover by the prime minister after I disclosed that he had told undercover reporters on the Telegraph that he had gone to war against NewsCorp.

Or to put it another way, the perception of bias either for or against NewsCorp taints the judicial impartiality that the relevant secretary of state is supposed to show.

Which is why I presume that Mr Hunt will ultimately do what Ofcom recommends and will refer the proposed takeover to the Competition Commission.

Update 12:59: I slightly regret the way I wrote this post, because some of you seem to think this is speculation.

It isn’t speculation.

What I am saying is very simple: Ofcom has recommended that there should be a full Competition Commission enquiry into News Corporation’s plan to buy all of British Sky Broadcasting.

That is a fact.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I await your update with bated breath. There are signs of another fine mess the coalition is headed for after Vince the wince dropped an almighty clanger and even though the decision is out of his hands he is was still in a position of influence and therefore lends scope to the grim Rupert to kick litigious ass.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mr Hunt is probably trying to do a deal to get Sky to buy the BBC or Royal Mail or both.. :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hark at the Murdochians getting their revenge in first. Of course Mr. Hunt wants to be 'kind' to News Corp, that's what he was brought in to do. He's already shown himself to be pretty cosy with that crowd so will there be an FoI proof deal? Watch this space.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr Hunt was put where he is to give Murdoch and Son what they want. He just needs to find the best way of doing that.

    I would be amazed if this government has the bottle to stand up to Murdoch & Son.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Is Mr Hunt doing so to ward off any possible legal challenge from NewsCorp to a decision to order a further enquiry?

    That's possible, though it is difficult to see how there could be such an appeal from NewsCorp, if Ofcom has done its job properly."

    Well I doubt that Ofcom has done it's job properly as undoubtedly it will have been persuaded by Mr Cable to propose further investigation. Just more evidence of the British obsession with knocking the successful.

  • Comment number 8.

    Please let's hope Ruperts pernicious outfit is stopped in it's tracks.

    It is already far too large and influential in this country and several others. There seems to be no limit to the mans craving for power and control. He cheapens most things he touches, has too much political influence and his main U K newspapers the Sun and News of the World are ridiculous comics. He has made it far more expensive to watch sport on tv and by offering as many diverse channels as Sky does diluted the content of most programmes on Tv.

  • Comment number 9.

    When the government claims to be unable to meet its obligations to citizens because it's skint, where is the money to pay for this interference in a private commercial transaction and where is the justification for doing so?

  • Comment number 10.

    Nobody would be discussing anything to do with weakening, discrediting or dismantling OFCOM because that would be in nobody's interest.

  • Comment number 11.

    Lets hope that Rupert is given the go a head to acquire the rest BSB. His operations provide what people want and are prepared to pay for.

    Certainly Murdoch can then start to challenge the Tax Payer funded BBC with all its built in advantages.

    I really fail to understand what the fuss is about. Mr Peston has advocated that the Government should run the Lloyds banking Group as they have a 40% stake. Shouldn't Murdoch therefore be afforded the same support given that he owns 39% of BSB?

    Perhaps more BBC bias coming to the fore

  • Comment number 12.

    Well said Robert Peston. Jeremy Hunt, now Culture Minister, is a known guest of Murdoch et al. That info' is in the public domain.

    Indeed, the Murdoch influence and funds supported the Conservatives during the 2010 elections, as we all know.

    Andy Coulson, ex Murdoch employee as Director of Communications at the heart of government at No 10 Downing Street - still in place with the swirl and taint of 'phone hacking?

    There is no coincidence in politics and business. When combined with media control - well that's really scary?

  • Comment number 13.

    Twinkletoes really got stung, and heaven knows what the Telegraph thought it was doing. However, we are where we are and if the Evil Empire doesn't get the rest of BskyB I'll be most surprised, but you rightly point out that J.Hunt is possibly as biased toward the Murdoch family as V. Cable was against. There's always the off switch, Freeview and DVDs - I refuse to give the Murdochs any money if I can help it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Murdoch should not be allowed to take over BSkyB completely. There is already no competition in satellite broadcasting in this country. He owns several British media outlets.

    His desire seems to be to damage the BBC so that he can control all access to sport in this country. This man has far too much power.

  • Comment number 15.

    He is probably after a Sky Plus box ..

  • Comment number 16.

    I smell a lengthy corridor chat between the captains of politics & industry, that'll end in a nice cosy deal, certainly not to the benefit of UK citizens. Those that alledgedly do benefit will go under the radar, so to speak! Interesting concept for Murdoch & Co buying BBC / Royal Mail....................

  • Comment number 17.

    The solution is obvious. Since Mr Cables lamentable gaff it will be impossible to stop the takeover. Let Mr Murdoch take over BUT bring in a law that states ALL national games expect friendlies perhaps must be shown on terrestial tv. I think it is a scandal that only people with access to sky can watch england play cricket particularly the recent ashes series.

  • Comment number 18.

    At 12:01pm on 13th Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    Mr Hunt was put where he is to give Murdoch and Son what they want. He just needs to find the best way of doing that.

    Agreed. If he can face the people with some promise of income to the exchequer, and his party with some promise of ongoing support, this will go ahead in my opinion.

  • Comment number 19.

    If it gets rushed through or deals are done you know who to blame.
    The Daily Telegraph journalists.
    Seriously, if they'd had not told us about Vince Cable's conversation he'd still be in charge and it would have automatically been passed onto to the Competition Committee and have the backing of the senior cabinet minister to do so!

    I think talks are being held because it needs to get dealt with. If the report is saying that he needs to sell off a paper or two or something like that to not be too monopolistic they need to get that organised asap so they can plough ahead.

    I do find it funny though, People have always assumed he was in sole control of the company anyway, doesn't change anything if he wasn't and now he will be.

  • Comment number 20.

    So it's not a case of the Torys sucking up to Murdock so his newspapers and tv stations will go easy on them.
    And they wonder why Johnny public thinks that all polititcians are corupt and big business is a bully.

  • Comment number 21.

    Trendy lefty assumptions aside, Hunt did not do what Murdoch wanted with the BBC funding settlement. There's no reason to assume he will do here. As the article points out he is more than likely going to do what OfCom recommend.

  • Comment number 22.

    I can't see what the problem is with him buying the rest of sky - he effectively owns it already (39% officially, the rest belongs to his son). I can't see what the problem is either? He runs 2 newspapers which couldn't be more different and I cannot say that I have noticed The Times changing since he has taken over. It's not got a page-3-girl yet...All other newspapers in the UK belong to someone else. He may want to take over Sky, but that doesn't give him a monopoly as there are plenty of other broadcasters out there. Running 2 newspapers and a couple of TV Stations wont give him enough influence to monopolize news (and half his channels don't even show news), but it may streamline a business and cut costs.

  • Comment number 23.

    Rupert is lush.

  • Comment number 24.

    Robert - surely if our concern is plurality in the media we should be breaking up the BBC?

    With all that unfair taxpayer funded competition out the way the media can flourish.

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree completely with
    8 At 12:07pm on 13th Jan 2011, Johnjo65 wrote:
    Please let's hope Ruperts pernicious outfit is stopped in it's tracks.

    It is already far too large and influential in this country and several others. There seems to be no limit to the mans craving for power and control. He cheapens most things he touches, has too much political influence and his main U K newspapers the Sun and News of the World are ridiculous comics. He has made it far more expensive to watch sport on tv and by offering as many diverse channels as Sky does diluted the content of most programmes on Tv.

    Is there a way we can start a petition and lobby the government?

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    If the anti-Sky/Murdoch lovey dovies at the BBC believe there is insufficient competiton in printed news media or indeed on TV, they are perfectly free to set up their own companies to offer a wider newspaper and TV news choice. It's called a free market. The last time I looked, Murdoch didn't hold a monopoly over paper or printing presses. Having said that there is already one liberal left newspaper in this country called The Guardian, and one only has to look at their low readership to see that they might be better free market economists than they care to admit and know a dud when they see one. I await an Ofcom and Monopolies Commission review of the BBC with bated breath.

  • Comment number 28.

    Mr Hunt (or whatever name he is addressed as on Radio 4) will do whatever Merde Och tells him to. Why is he having talks? Well so he can get his latest orders of course!

  • Comment number 29.

    Is Ofcom the quango that thought it was OK to have newspapers and numerous TV channels under the control of the pornographer Richard Desmond? And was it Ofcom or Gordon Brown who handed over control of the Evening Standard and The Independent without a murmer to ex-KGB operative Mr Alexander Lebedev? And was it Robert Peston and the BBC who didn't care very much about who owned the media to bother writing blogs or making a fuss about either of them?

  • Comment number 30.

    Maybe they want to take over the running of the post office as well?
    Who do you refer that to?

    Talk about walking on thin ice....

  • Comment number 31.

    At 12:35pm on 13th Jan 2011, bob wrote:
    I think it is a scandal that only people with access to sky can watch england play cricket particularly the recent ashes series.

    I'm sorry, Bob, the BBC lost the right to stage Test match cricket years ago. Why? Because when they had that right, they thoroughly abused it by, for example switching coverage at a critical stage of play to the 3:40 race at Lingfield Park and all manner of other trivial minority sporting interruptions throughout the course of a day's play. And instead of buying the rights, the BBC luvvies chose to spend their millions on the likes of Jonathan Ross instead.

  • Comment number 32.

    Figure it out Mr Hunt ... BBC too big, biased and expensive; Sky too big, bloated arguably expensive and biased and not enough competition?
    C4? ITV? C5? ... level playing field?
    Is it healthy to have a socialist leaning public funded BBC and a ultra right wing main competitor ... something wrong here? Simples!

  • Comment number 33.

    19. At 12:42pm on 13th Jan 2011, opaqueentity wrote:

    "If it gets rushed through or deals are done you know who to blame.

    The Daily Telegraph journalists.
    Seriously, if they'd had not told us about Vince Cable's conversation he'd still be in charge and it would have automatically been passed onto to the Competition Committee and have the backing of the senior cabinet minister to do so!"

    but i thought things like Wikileaks and undercover reported operations were to be applauded? Or is it only in certain cases?

    Seriously though, if he gets the go ahead and you do not like it, then just do not purchase his products - it's the capitalist way of doing things by choosing whether to buy or not :-)

  • Comment number 34.

    Ever get the feeling that the Sky probe is a comedy of error?

    Robert is right, Jeremy Hunt will do exactly what the Ofcom recommendation suggests because Vince managed to ensure that this govt cannot do otherwise without losing a court case.

    Problem is if Ofcom recommendation is a referral then Murdoch will probably launch a court case in any case. The elephant in the room is the ITV decision. It has already been decided that owning 17% of a media broadcaster has an unacceptable reduction in media plurality. But it has also already been accepted that Murdoch owning 39% of Sky was OK. Murdoch can argue (correctly based on the previous ITV case) that moving from 39% to 100% ownership makes no difference

  • Comment number 35.

    "I think it is a scandal that only people with access to sky can watch england play cricket particularly the recent ashes series."

    If you are posting on here it suggests you have a computer with internet access - use the resources available to you.

    I saw England beating the Aussies without Sky TV - it's called live internet streaming.

  • Comment number 36.

    22. At 12:44pm on 13th Jan 2011, Bubble Works wrote:

    That says it all really, doesn't it.



  • Comment number 37.

    Decent John,

    There is more out there than this Sky corp is prepared to let you have and you deserve to have it.

    x

  • Comment number 38.

    In addendum to my previous post ... it can't have escaped anyone's attention that BT and Sky are pushing 'bundles' on TV/net/etc., on all advertising sites?

    This full on 'integration' and 'collaboration' between Sky and BT? What's that all about?

    Had a bet with my son over Christmas that Sky and BT will be 'officially' permanent partners by September 2011.

  • Comment number 39.

    First and to be clear I do not in anyway like and am completely bias against Mr Murdoch and Son.

    I do not believe Murdoch and Son should be allowed to in any way fruther extend his grasping influence in the Media. In fact I am of the opinion that both here in the UK and Europe and across the rest of the world any move by this over grown media dictator should be challenged and blocked.

    The way Mr Murdoch uses his media power to support the establishments he supports and uses any possible tactic's to attack and denigrate those he does not like have been shown and reported on by the indepedant media. To allow him to extend his empire is not just bad for the companies he takes over but also bad for the purality of new reporting across the world.

    Mr Cable was rightly removed from taking part in this decision now Mr Hunt MUST prove he can bring impartiality to the decision process and the only way this can be done is to Refer the bid to the Competition Comission.

    As you will have gathered I want this bid to fail but I am clear an open unambiguous and legally correct process must be followed.

    Mr Hunt take Notice!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    OK, so Vince Cable was "outed" by the Telegraph as not a fan of Rupert Murdoch. And the Government, purportedly on grounds of impartiality, appointed Jeremy Hunt to make the decision, a man already on record as a supporter of Murdoch's. This shows that fairness, so far as this Government is concerned, is a concept for the little people.

    So, let's see which side has consideration for due process of law. The anti-Murdoch Cable was shunted aside by a politically-motivated ambush by the Tory Right, through its organ the Torygraph. Not very democratic, that. And then the new man leaves Ofcom's report languishing on his desk while he plugs Murdoch for concessions. What kind of concessions, I wonder? Party political favours? Or concessions designed to allow a media market in the UK that benefits consumers? Don't be surprised to see more of the former than of the latter, but in either case it is evident that some people are above the law.

  • Comment number 41.

    If the people foaming at the mouth about News Corp and Sky get their way they will no doubt move on to new campaigns against Al Jazeera, Press TV, Russian TV.... Apparently they believe that anyone they dislike should not be allowed to own anything and only one point of view, their own, should ever be allowed into the public domain.

  • Comment number 42.

    There's a simple answer: stop using Sky.

    For the last 20 years I've managed to live a perfectly happy life without ever buying a Murdoch paper or using Sky. I have no intention of putting my money in that man's pocket. So if you buy the Times, move to the Independent or Guardian. If you use Sky, move to Virgin or BT. You lose nothing.

  • Comment number 43.

    'Just more evidence of the British obsession with knocking the successful.' Many many people in this country are successful. People like Mr Murdoch and his organisation are way beyond successful. They are likely to shape and control the markets they are 'competing' in unless regulators step in.

  • Comment number 44.

    Robert, I am interested as to what you have heard this does to the target share price, I see the market moved 0.5% on the news but came down a little. What are the views you are getting?

  • Comment number 45.

    According to Andrew Rawnsley's recent book. leaks to Robert Peston which he went on to publish, resulted on 2 separate occasions in a scaling up of the banking crisis. If Mr Rawnsley is right, then Robert P has cost us all a lot of money.

    Much more recently, his "outing" of Vince Cable's unwise remarks has caused the decision on Sky to fall into the hands of Murdoch's supposed buddy Jeremy Hunt. It looks very much as though the latter is trying to do a secret deal with Murdoch and co.
    Please Mr Peston, do consider the harm that your spreading these leaks is causing. The dangers of extreme right-wingers getting hold of the media are illustrated, graphically and tragically, by the event in Tucson Arizona last Saturday.

  • Comment number 46.

    "36. At 13:09pm on 13th Jan 2011, copperDolomite wrote:

    22. At 12:44pm on 13th Jan 2011, Bubble Works wrote:

    That says it all really, doesn't it."

    Well, it would do apart from the fact that almost all of posting 22 is complete and utter poppycock. Do you really think that all this fuss is about preventing Rupert Murdoch from buying his own son's stake in Sky?

    As a matter of interest, Murdoch is on record, in evidence to a parliamentary committee, no less, as saying he wants Sky News to be like Fox News, but is prevented from doing so by Sky's board. A 39% stake clearly does not equate to anything like full control, but then again it never has done. Even the Government's 70% stake in RBS is insufficient to exercise full control, as minority interests have well-defined legal rights.

    Those who think this is a non-issue will quickly find out how wrong they were when the deal is waved through.

  • Comment number 47.

    7. At 12:02pm on 13th Jan 2011, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:

    "Just more evidence of the British obsession with knocking the successful. "

    Can you define 'successful' please? - I mean the banks were successful - until 2008, then they weren't. Nobody knocked them - but perhaps we should have to find their inherent weaknesses.

    Successful people aren't brought down by 'knocking' - only the charlatans of this world worry about 'knocking' - because unsutainable houses of cards don't stand up to much scrutiny.

    Surely the testing of the successful is all part of the free market - or are you selective about to whom you apply your free market ideology? It seems you believe in the free market for all the little guys - but when it comes to one organisation owning a huge proportion of TV and media - suddenly you're not so keen on applying the same rules.

  • Comment number 48.

    Poor Robert seems almost frantic at the prospect of Hunt doing something other than he approves of. I shouldn't worry too much Rob, the state sponsored behemoth that is the BBC won't be disappearing any time soon. So your wages are safe... For now!

  • Comment number 49.

    Kevin S says “If the anti-Sky/Murdoch lovey dovies at the BBC believe there is insufficient competiton in printed news media or indeed on TV, they are perfectly free to set up their own companies to offer a wider newspaper and TV news choice. It's called a free market.”

    I love this: apparently the newspaper and TV market is a free market with no barriers to entry operating under conditions of perfect competition and therefore free for anyone to enter. Lets see why this is wrong:

    1. Almost all newspapers operate at a loss and need subsidising by someone in order to keep trading.

    2. In order to enter this loss making free market you need a large amount of capital and I suspect no bank will be willing to offer you this in a loss making business.

    3. The fact that the newspaper business is a loss making area must tell you that the proprietors are in the business for something other than profits and may explain their political bias.

    4. A sign of the free market not operating properly is super normal profits, Sky TV is extremely profitable, it is the only satellite broadcaster and has monopoly rights over a number of very popular sports and seems to be able to outbid all the terrestrial suppliers (who could be described as competitors) for popular US made TV shows; 24, House etc.

    Without writing more of the same can somebody explain to me why this is described as a free market?

  • Comment number 50.

    17. At 12:35pm on 13th Jan 2011, bob

    ...but Bob - this is some people's defintion of a 'free market' and 'choice'. The fact that SKY has a near monopoly on TV sport - and that they demand exclusivity in order to cement that monopoly is neither here nor there for those who live within a contradiction.

    On the one hand they spout the virtues of free market competition - but conveniently support on of the biggest private monopolies in the world. At least I can write to my MP to complain about the behaviour of the BBC if I want (it's called accountability) - I can't have any such effect over SKY.

    It's very noticeable that only the BBC has feedback programs (points of view, news review etc) and that no other commercial channel has such a voice for the minority viewer that I am aware of. Instead they choose to get their 'feedback' from their failed ratings system which is about as reliable as a bankers profit.

  • Comment number 51.

    Well, let me see. Mr. Hunt talking to: Rupert Murdock. Both men don’t really like the BBC, and there is only one way this is going to go.

  • Comment number 52.

    12. At 12:30pm on 13th Jan 2011, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    Well said Robert Peston. Jeremy Hunt, now Culture Minister, is a known guest of Murdoch et al. That info' is in the public domain.

    Indeed, the Murdoch influence and funds supported the Conservatives during the 2010 elections, as we all know.

    Andy Coulson, ex Murdoch employee as Director of Communications at the heart of government at No 10 Downing Street - still in place with the swirl and taint of 'phone hacking?

    There is no coincidence in politics and business. When combined with media control - well that's really scary?
    ============================

    Pretty much fits Mussolini's definition of fascism to a T, doesnt' it?

  • Comment number 53.

    An interesting read. No doubt Hunt is desperately seeking some means of bending over backwards for Murdoch.

    If so the nation's in trouble - you don't have to look far to find plenty of examples of those too dumb to resist his thought control.

  • Comment number 54.

    31. At 13:03pm on 13th Jan 2011, Kevin S wrote:

    "I'm sorry, Bob, the BBC lost the right to stage Test match cricket years ago. Why? Because when they had that right, they thoroughly abused it by, for example switching coverage at a critical stage of play to the 3:40 race at Lingfield Park and all manner of other trivial minority sporting interruptions throughout the course of a day's play. And instead of buying the rights, the BBC luvvies chose to spend their millions on the likes of Jonathan Ross instead."

    No - it was about money - and the BBC didn't think they could justify the amount required to secure these sports, and realising the power of SKY they knew they would be bid out of the market.

    Clearly the scope of murdochs media empire has already infected your mind - it seems you have a 'new history' embedded in you which isn't a reflection of reality.

  • Comment number 55.

    > Ofcom has recommended that there should be a full Competition Commission
    > enquiry into News Corporation’s plan to buy all of British Sky Broadcasting.

    Is there any possibility that Mr Murdoch learned this before you did? And, if so, who leaked the information to him?

  • Comment number 56.

    I bought nothing but a freeview box and I still have to have 2 channels occupied with the drivel of SKY news and SKY 3.

    The only use SKY news has is that when I watch it I can see where some of the more maliable people of this country get their funny ideas from.

    Maybe we'll get Murdoch's desire and have SKY news more like Fox news - but is this really good for our society?

    http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/Fox-Ailes-Tone-Down-Rhetoric/2011/01/11/id/382470

    Maybe this is what the watchers of SKY want to see - more polarised debate with any old nut job being given time to speak to the audience who think they're watching a factual programme.

    I mean when I was in the US recently FOX had a guy on who was proposing that Obama was not American and couldn't hold office. This guy got a good 20 minutes, but it turns out his 'information' that led him to the conclusion actually came from a blog!

    That's quality journalism - the BBC are not great, but at least they might have asked that fundamental question - but of course FOX with it's anti-Obama agenda decided to let it ride as if it were fact.

  • Comment number 57.

    52. At 13:59pm on 13th Jan 2011, Tony Harrison
    12. At 12:30pm on 13th Jan 2011, corum-populo-2010

    14 signs folks - 14 signs.....

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4113.htm

    "6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses."

    Oh lookie here, leaders of the mass media compatable with the power elite - and who makes such a big deal of which party his media empire will support before elections - and in their own words "win it for them"?

    Wakey Wakey Britain - it's fascism, but not as you expect it. There will be no Swasticas and not Goosestepping - they've moved on from that. They're learning from their mistakes in the past - shame we're not.

  • Comment number 58.

    People seem remarkably unphased by the idea of one man owning so much of the country's media in the name of the "free market". It's almost like they don't realise that the free market *doesn't work* if one person has a monopoly, let alone how dangerous it is to have one unelected man with such power and influence.

  • Comment number 59.

    There can’t be any possible competition concerns and the deal has already been given the green light by the EU competition authorities. Even when Murdoch gains full control of BSB the BBC will still be dominant in news coverage by a substantial margin.

    The decision of the BBC Trust not to syndicate programming to the 15 million households who pay the license fee, but choose to receive programming on satellite or cable platforms is deplorable. The BBC insistence of delivery only through iPlayer is bound to undermine project canvas as well as blocking innovation and competition for net connected TV.

  • Comment number 60.

    25. At 12:57pm on 13th Jan 2011, the_near_side wrote:

    "Is there a way we can start a petition and lobby the government?"

    38 degrees, it's simple and quick to add your voice to the millions who object to this.

  • Comment number 61.

    The issue will be referred, Murdoch will not go to court but he will be given the right to buy the rest of BSB (with a few strings) (he still won't get any of my money though)

    There is nothing stopping anyone operating their own satellite TV station, just rent some space from a satellite owner (like Murdoch does) and start broadcasting, hang on though OFCOM won't let you without paying them a huge sum of money just to apply for a license (and no refund if unsuccessful) and they then want a % of turnover (not profit) if a license is granted.

    The switch off of terrestrial analogue will free up a huge amount of bandwidth for digital channels, will OFCOM be issuing licenses like candy at a cheap price to all comers (no is the answer)
    OFCOM itself should be referred to the monopolies commission


  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    ...wait a minute....is this the recovery coming now? - Choo choo! all aboard the recovery train!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-12179703

    Oh no, it's a sign of desperation in the population.

    Are these all the lazy job scroungers the right wing are always talking about? They seem quite keen considering they're living the life of luxury off the state subsidy.

  • Comment number 64.

    4. A sign of the free market not operating properly is super normal profits, Sky TV is extremely profitable, it is the only satellite broadcaster and has monopoly rights over a number of very popular sports and seems to be able to outbid all the terrestrial suppliers (who could be described as competitors) for popular US made TV shows; 24, House etc.

    *********************************************************

    No it doesn't as hardly any of these actually run on Sky

    Criminal Minds - Living = Virgin Media
    CSI - Living, Channel5 = Virgin Media
    Desperate Housewives - no idea, as I don't watch it, but again, not running on Sky

    Sky does buy some series, but not all of them and since CBS have their own channels over here now (of which Sky shows more than Virgin), there will be even less.

    I actually find Virgin cable more of a monopoly, as this is a closed system and I depend on what they deem watchable. If they don't want to show a channel, I cannot see the channel (some CBS ones at the moment). If I have a satellite dish, I not only get more channels, I can also train it to receive other satellites and there are channels that can be picked up, that are not in the Sky Listing/EPG. There could be more, if broadacsters wanted to and there is nothing Sky can do about it, at the moment there are 3 or 4 and none are worth watching, but the possibility is there, which is more than what can be said about cable TV.

  • Comment number 65.

    35. At 13:08pm on 13th Jan 2011, whirlygig wrote:

    "I saw England beating the Aussies without Sky TV - it's called live internet streaming."

    I suggested the same thing a few months ago about the football and the moderators thought it broke the rules and suppressed it.
    I don't miss a thing, it's called broadband and there is a little more choice about who supplies that service.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nobody forced the ECB to accept the highest bid on the table. If they felt strongly enough they could have accepted an acceptable BBC bid for the television rights. But was the BBC able or even prepared to dedicate a channel to show the Test matches in full - I think not.
    The gullible and uninformed self proclaimed Murdoch bashers seem to have a very short memory; this is typical of the gullible and uninformed. I seem to recall that the Murdoch empire openly supported the Labour party from 1997 to 2010.

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    58. At 14:32pm on 13th Jan 2011, TodMetzger wrote:

    "People seem remarkably unphased by the idea of one man owning so much of the country's media in the name of the "free market". It's almost like they don't realise that the free market *doesn't work* if one person has a monopoly, let alone how dangerous it is to have one unelected man with such power and influence."

    no Tod - it's selective free market support. Capitalists seem to pick and choose when they think a free market is a good idea.

    I think it shows how little they know about the very beast they defend so vehemently.

  • Comment number 69.

    I hope Robert Peston is working his little cotton socks off to make up for the fact that he was a key link in the chain that got Cable kicked off the case. Given that Andrew Neil told us yesterday that even Murdoch was now horrified by the monster he has created in Fox News, everything possible should be done to stop his extending his pernicious reach in this country. If Hunt just gives it the nod it will be, in my view, de facto treason.

  • Comment number 70.

    Finally, Robert Peston is saying it how it is? Well said.

    With the Murdoch tentacles chocking all aspects of media and all communication companies in the UK is bad enough. But those same tentacles at the heart of government. Is no-one worried about that?

  • Comment number 71.

    I haven't been following this topic tightly, but I know that several lawyers have been offering up opinions and that many of these opinions have warned Hunt to be careful.
    Why?
    Jeremy Hunt must act with due diligence to avoid legal challenge in his role as regulating News Corp’s proposed bid for British Sky Broadcasting. I noted that these warnings started to come fast & furious after Hunt's department sent Rupert Murdoch’s company a key document, but I don't know what the document was.
    Three competition-type lawyers warned that the Culture Secretary’s move could be construed as giving News Corp the ability to offer pre-emptive “strikes” that could be seen as eliminating or "messing with" the need for a full public interest investigation.
    Jan 05, 2011 Hunt urged to refer bid for BSkyB.
    Jan 07, 2011, Simon Holmes, a partner at S.J. Berwin which specilizes on competition law, said he was “not sure the Culture Secretary would be wise” to conduct further talks with News Corp or anyone else opposing the bid because it could be beyond his legal powers or jurisdiction.
    The lawyers cautioned Hunt would need to exercise great caution before accepting any undertakings. By undertakings they meant
    - establishing independent editorial boards or
    - promising not to sell newspaper and television subscriptions together.
    Two of these competive legal specialists believed the Culture Secretary did not have the power under the Enterprise Act to do anything other than decide whether or not to order full commission inquiry.
    News Corp seems eager to overcome regulatory issues so that its leaders can seek agreement with independent directors of BSkyB on a price.
    News Corp has received an executive summary of a preliminary report from Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, which analysts and lawyers believe contained a recommendation to Mr Hunt that he refer the issue to the Commission. The media group wants to meet Mr. Hunt and his officials BEFORE the decision is reached.
    The public interest investigation issue is:
    whether News Corp’s attempt to buy the 60.9% of BSkyB that it doesn't already own would reduce "plurality", that is the diversity of opinion the UK media. Rival media owners have argued against the proposition and some have engaged their own competition lawyers.
    Simon Holmes said quite unambiguously: “It seems to me quite inappropriate to have discussion of the merits of the plurality issue given that Ofcom has already issued its report. The role of the secretary of state is to decide whether or not to refer it to the commission.”
    Another lawyer advised that a close reading of the Enterprise Act suggested that Mr Hunt had no discretion to accept any undertakings or remedies from News Corp until after a commission inquiry, which could take 6 to 8 months.
    So, the one remaining question I have is: What could possibly be the nature of the discussions that Mr. Hunt is having with News Corp?

  • Comment number 72.

    Anything that leads to an organisation which can foster the kind of lies and rhetoric that goes on in the US (Fox News owned by Murdoch) needs to be reined in here. We have the laws and procedures with which to do it. One wonders how much time Jeremy Hunt has spent in the US if he is so keen on "holding talks" with News Corp after OFCOM have made their recommendation. What exactly are they talking about, and why have an OFCOM if you are going to ignore them?
    Jeremy Hunt needs to wake up and stop worrying about Murdoch's newspapers. We all know the score. The Tories will have more damage inflicted on them if they get this one wrong than if they kowtow to any large publishing and media company.

  • Comment number 73.

    62. At 14:46pm on 13th Jan 2011, You wrote:

    "Your comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules."

    BBC - Why are you protecting Andrew Gilligan?

    It's not very fair we're defending the BBC against the impartiality of the Murdoch press and you are covering up the irresponsible journalism which infects our society from the pens of people like Gilligan.

    There is not a single allegation made by this man in the case I referred to which has been proven true - there is no ongoing case - so why are you suppressing it?

  • Comment number 74.

    Lets face it, Murdoch wants to rule the world's media,and probably the world and send his message out to everyone. What that message is remains to be seen but you can be pretty sure it will be of the right wing variety and anyone with a different outlook who disagrees with it will be heavily criticised in the networks he owns, bit like Fox but on a larger scale. Thing is, not many ruling politicos seem to want to oppose him and if they do as in the case of Uncle Vince they are magically removed, mind you he's only got himself to blame. I find it ironic that a right leaning paper like the Telegraph duped and exposed him, I suppose you could say it saved Rupert's Times the effort. Mind you if the Times had done it it would have looked well dodgy. Of course the trouble for political parties that Murdoch supports is that if they go against him he will just withdraw his support both financial and media from that party and they don't want that, do they.

  • Comment number 75.

    #69 Mike Waller

    If Hunt just gives it the nod it will be, in my view, de facto treason.

    So would selling the Royal Mail to a foreign company and allowing a foreign company to take over our search and rescues services from the RN and RAF. But this doesn't stop them.

  • Comment number 76.

    The government are sycophants to the corporate business barons. Never before has it been so blatent where their interests lie. And the blogg Murdoch supporters look more akin to Nazi sympathisers during the 1940s by the day

  • Comment number 77.

    The reason Sky is so popular is that it gives people what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Sorry, but this is simple fact; Murdoch can make no money without supplying what people want.

    Unlike the BBC, which can do what it pleases.

    Sport coverage is infintely enhanced by Sky. I can remember when the only tennis featured for 52 weeks was Wimbledon, the final of the US Open and maybe some highlights from another.

  • Comment number 78.

    Oh, and exactly what difference does anyone think it will make if he carries on owning *just* 39% of Sky? The network is operationally his already, it's just that he wants all the profits from his investments.

  • Comment number 79.

    You are very naughty boy Robert but I like you.
    If you ever decide to actually leave the Beeb, in order to express your opinion clearly, I'd sign up.

  • Comment number 80.

    72. At 15:37pm on 13th Jan 2011, C Smith wrote:
    "Anything that leads to an organisation which can foster the kind of lies and rhetoric that goes on in the US (Fox News owned by Murdoch) needs to be reined in here"

    yes, but we have no choice in having the BBC....

  • Comment number 81.

    quote/ I seem to recall that the Murdoch empire openly supported the Labour party from 1997 to 2010/unquote

    ..and that would explain the mess we are in now.

    The question right now is who runs this country? Murdoch or the banks?

    I'll buy nothing provided by the Australian/American or his Family.


  • Comment number 82.

    It’s been a long time since we have had a government that is so willing to avoid representing the interests of the wider population of this country whilst, idolising their gods that run the world of corporate business. They should be ashamed of themselves, gushing at every opportunity at their gods perceived wisdom, and with welcoming arms allowing these non elected wealth accumulators to steer the direction of our economy and the values of our society. All I can foresee is the government will continue to alienate themselves from an increasing proportion of the population as the policies they implement continue to impoverish a large number of the population, and increasingly the middle classes, whilst allowing their friends in the corporate world to increase their prosperity.

  • Comment number 83.

    "79. At 15:53pm on 13th Jan 2011, EconomicsStudent wrote:
    You are very naughty boy Robert "

    So he's not the messiah? ;)

  • Comment number 84.

    Good news about the Ofcom decision. It also means Vince Cable was probably right about this issue too. Murdoch is going to have to try something else. Who can he get his media chums and political friends to attack next I wonder?

  • Comment number 85.

    #80. yam yzf wrote:

    yes, but we have no choice in having the BBC...

    You may have no choice whether or not to contribute to the cost of the BBC, just as you have no choice in contributing to the cost of the NHS, primary schools, unemployment benefit or the war in Afghanistan, but that's what society is all about - contributing according to your means whether or not you personally use all or any of the services you are paying for.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 82. At 16:03pm on 13th Jan 2011, Averagejoe wrote:

    > It’s been a long time since we have had a government that is so willing to
    > avoid representing the interests of the wider population of this country

    What - since May last year, you mean?

  • Comment number 87.

    66. At 15:18pm on 13th Jan 2011, Eyetoldyouso wrote:

    "Nobody forced the ECB to accept the highest bid on the table. If they felt strongly enough they could have accepted an acceptable BBC bid for the television rights. But was the BBC able or even prepared to dedicate a channel to show the Test matches in full - I think not."

    Classic capitalist contradiction - so the ECB should have ignored it's own interests in order to take the moral stance of ensuring that the people of this nation can watch their own national cricketers?
    Should I take the lower offer on my house because I don't like the look of the guy who is buying it?
    Morals are for socialists - not for Capitalists.
    ...and how does this fit into the efficiency of markets? If we start taking lower offers because of our principles - then how long before people are taking advantage of that?

    "The gullible and uninformed self proclaimed Murdoch bashers seem to have a very short memory; this is typical of the gullible and uninformed. I seem to recall that the Murdoch empire openly supported the Labour party from 1997 to 2010."

    Who or what Murdoch supported is of no consequence - and it's funny how you presume the 'murdoch bashers' are all Labour supporters - maybe that SKY news is affecting your ability to have an open mind and instilling right wing prejudices in your mind without you even realising!

  • Comment number 88.

    46. At 13:40pm on 13th Jan 2011, Tim wrote:

    Tim go back and read my comment again.

    And as you read, think of the word wry. There isn't an keyboard character for 'wry'.

  • Comment number 89.

    perhaps James Naughtie was on to something....

  • Comment number 90.

    could it possibly be that Mr. Hunt is acutely aware of Mr, Murdoch's stated support for Conservative Rule ??

  • Comment number 91.

    We're a freeview household. And even then it's rarely on.

    No product of the Murdoch empire is welcome in our home - utter drivel. Saw enough of it in the US and that was a decade ago. Reliable sources tell us that the products have deteriorated.

    We've seen the odd clip of this Burley woman - good grief! A broadcaster behaving like a right wee unsophisticated 15-year-old schemer is enough to tell me she should have her pocket money docked, never mind hold a job best suited to an adult. Burley's performance simply confirmed our source's view - it won't be long until the presenters are thowing Prescott punches around.

    Not in my name, not in my house.

  • Comment number 92.

    Megan #9 wrote:

    "When the government claims to be unable to meet its obligations to citizens because it's skint, where is the money to pay for this interference in a private commercial transaction and where is the justification for doing so?"

    The justification is that the wealthy, particular the media barons, already have far too much political influence in the UK.

    It is difficult to understand the complacency of many UK citizens, who claim to support democracy, about the fact that a few wealthy individuals are allowed to finance our politicians and parties, either by handing over 100s of thousands of pounds in cash, or in kind by using the media outlets they own, to churn out heavily biased propaganda.

    Real reform of the taxation system, for example, is effectively impossible until this problem is tackled.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is very concerning and I personally am not convinced that Jeremy Hunt does not unduly favour the Murdoch Press.

    Plurality of press-ownership is a key feature of democracy and is already under threat by Rupert Murdoch; I hope the government prevents this takeover and also considers introducing stricter rules on press-ownership - much stricter than are present at the moment.

  • Comment number 94.

    85. At 16:16pm on 13th Jan 2011, rbs_temp wrote:

    "You may have no choice whether or not to contribute to the cost of the BBC, just as you have no choice in contributing to the cost of the NHS, primary schools, unemployment benefit or the war in Afghanistan, but that's what society is all about - contributing according to your means whether or not you personally use all or any of the services you are paying for."

    Darn, forgeot that again ;)

    Then again, I thought society was about the common good, so health and armed forces I understand. But the BBC does seem to go against the common good quite a bit in the way it reports politics, business, global warming, sorry cooling, sorry, climate change ..... :-)


  • Comment number 95.

    77. At 15:49pm on 13th Jan 2011, bogbrush wrote:

    "The reason Sky is so popular is that it gives people what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Sorry, but this is simple fact; Murdoch can make no money without supplying what people want."

    Supplying? - or witholding?

    Exclusive rights for major sporting events - pay or no watchie - sounds a lot like the latter to me.

    "Unlike the BBC, which can do what it pleases."

    Not quite true though is it? - I mean there is the small matter of the BBC trust isn't there? - what is the SKY equivalent?

    "Sport coverage is infintely enhanced by Sky. I can remember when the only tennis featured for 52 weeks was Wimbledon, the final of the US Open and maybe some highlights from another."

    Really - all that whoosing as the scene changes impresses you? Do you get a little excited when you see bright lights moving too?

    "Oh, and exactly what difference does anyone think it will make if he carries on owning *just* 39% of Sky? The network is operationally his already, it's just that he wants all the profits from his investments."

    Profits from his investments? - or his pound of flesh?

    The fact is about 90% of people who subscribe to SKY do it solely for the sport - the supermarkets employ the same tactic by cornering the market in milk - and selling it at a loss.
    It's an essential daily requirement - so once you're in, you're there to be fleeced on all the other products.

    ...or didn't you realise these marketing tactics are employed to ensure you "make the choice they want yo to make" ??

  • Comment number 96.

    We have SKY in our household but I never watch it since most of the output is rubbish.

    I used to enjoy reading Times Online, but no longer bother since I refuse to pay for the privilege of reading advertising messages - especially when there are many other online sources for good journalism.

    My general online reading habits encompass (in order) BBC, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian, and occasionally Daily Mail. I feel this gives me a broad perspective and a variety of opinion on current events.

    I do not wish to see this deal approved since I believe there is a democratic bias to be protected.

  • Comment number 97.

    85. At 16:16pm on 13th Jan 2011, rbs_temp wrote:

    "You may have no choice whether or not to contribute to the cost of the BBC, just as you have no choice in contributing to the cost of the NHS, primary schools, unemployment benefit or the war in Afghanistan, but that's what society is all about - contributing according to your means whether or not you personally use all or any of the services you are paying for."

    ...isn't that a bit 'socialist'?

    Have you had your account hacked?

  • Comment number 98.

    67. WOTW

    "Consumer inflation is high, wgae inflation is low (or negative) - what do you think happens next?"

    An excellent question and largely ignored today.

    I do not know but the worse things get the more volatile things become. What happens next seems to vary from time to time and place to place. Anything is possible. If we look at the worst injustices in history and the worst leaders they all seemed to have been preceded by an economic crisis often precipitate by empire builders losing control. That which is morally repugnant today but legal will fill tomorrows charge sheets, since crimes are redefined depending on who is in charge - the majority or the minority.

    Just one example - insider dealing. Not even a crime until the 1980's. Now its just a crime that virtually never gets punished as the regulators are the players and the players are the regulators. Gamblers caught playing with a marked deck were subject to a lynching back in the days of the wild west. I wonder what Clint Eastwood would have said.

    "D'ont p*** down my back and tell me its raining"

    Rapidly rising prices will generally produce food shortages for the poor of the world and very substantial falls in the standard of livings for the majority. What would you do to eat or feed your children? That is the real answer.

    There have already been food riots around the world. Riots can quickly escalate and behave very much like a nuclear chain reaction exploding exponetially and sweeping away authority effortlessly. If the atom splits it splits.


    "A dog starved at his master's gate
    Predicts the ruin of the state.
    The whore and gambler, by the state
    Licensed, build that nation's fate."

    I'm off to wait tables.


  • Comment number 99.

    "80. At 15:53pm on 13th Jan 2011, yam yzf wrote:

    72. At 15:37pm on 13th Jan 2011, C Smith wrote:
    "Anything that leads to an organisation which can foster the kind of lies and rhetoric that goes on in the US (Fox News owned by Murdoch) needs to be reined in here"

    yes, but we have no choice in having the BBC...."

    Clearly, you have never lived in the US.

  • Comment number 100.

    This should be a main headline! It's outrageous that a leading Goverment Minister, is sitting on a report with such wide ranging ramifications if it's ignored.
    I've written to my MP to protest about this.

 

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