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Why Jeremy Hunt is allowing BSkyB takeover

Robert Peston | 07:52 UK time, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Huge changes to the landscape of the British media industry are being heralded today.

Jeremy Hunt

 

Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has given the green light to News Corporation's £7.5bn takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting - which would create a media giant whose revenues would dwarf all rivals, even the BBC.

But as a condition of allowing the deal, he is forcing Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to spin off Sky News into a new company listed on the stock market, with its own board and whose chairman could not be a News Corporation employee, so not a member of the Murdoch clan.

Sky News would be 61% owned by outside investors, and 39% owned by News Corp - reflecting the current ownership structure of BSkyB. And News Corp could only increase that shareholding with the explicit agreement of the culture secretary.

And to protect its editorial independences, its board and an editorial board would have a majority of independent directors.

What is more, News Corp would sign a contract to buy Sky News's services for 10 years, and to licence it the "Sky News" brand for seven years - an arrangement which is supposed to provide incentives to both sides to ensure that Sky News has a viable future longer than 10 years.

Correspondence published today between Mr Hunt and News Corp indicates that News Corp has - under pressure - made greater concessions than it wanted to do guarantee Sky News' independence.

And as a result of these concessions, Ofcom - the media regulator - has said that the harm its perceives as flowing from the deal, that it would restrict choice or plurality of news providers, would be purged.

Even so there will be a storm of protest that Mr Hunt is allowing the deal.

There will be criticism both from media rivals, such as the Telegraph, Mail and Guardian, and from grassroots campaigns.

One important caveat however about the significance of all this.

None of this will happen unless News Corp offers enough to persuade BSkyB's shareholders to sell. And what is completely clear is that those shareholders view the current offer of 700p per share as far too low.

Update 09:56: The hiving off of Sky News into a new listed company, 39% owned by News Corp and 61% by outside investors, would create a potentially interesting new player in the news market.

It could not be a pawn of the Murdochs and a News Corporation massively enlarged by the takeover of BSkyB (if that deal does go through - which, to repeat, is not guaranteed), for a number of reasons.

Of course it would be massively reliant on the so-called carriage agreement with News Corp that would be put in place, which would be a 10 year contract for Sky News to supply news services to Sky television.

Which means that initially at least, Sky News would be dependent on News Corp for 85% of its revenues. In other words, News Corp would be a pretty powerful customer.

But that is why Ofcom, the media regulator, insisted that Sky News should put in place a raft of governance arrangements to protect its independence (see above for more on this) - which would be a layer on top of the guarantees of independence that company law and stock exchange listing agreements force on companies traded on the stock market.

In that sense, the guarantees of Sky News's independence would be significantly more robust than the arrangements put in place 30 years ago to preserve the editorial independence of the Times newspaper.

What is particularly striking about the correspondence published this morning by the Culture Department about negotiations to maintain Sky News as an autonomous force in news is that it shows there was a bust-up in mid February between Ofcom, the media regulator, and News Corporation over all this.

Ofcom insisted that the chairman of Sky News had to be independent, not an employee of News Corp, and not therefore a member of the Murdoch clan.

News Corp initially said no to this demand. Which is not a great surprise, because in a way it was a humiliating request to put to the Murdochs.

Remember they regard themselves as having created not only all of BSkyB, but also Sky News. So to be told that no member of their family could chair something they see as their baby, well this would not have been an easy thing for Rupert Murdoch to swallow.

But the Murdochs did make the concession. Which I think tells you something about Rupert Murdoch's desire - in the words of one of his colleagues - to get "all his ducks in a row" as he approaches the milestone of his 80th birthday (he is 80 on 11 March).

Rupert Murdoch sees the takeover of BSkyB as an important element in the tidying up of his disparate assets, and in the end was prepared to allow Sky News the freedom demanded by Ofcom to achieve that end (the return of his daughter Liz Murdoch to the News Corp fold also has to be seen in the context of tying up these loose ends, according to Mr Murdoch's friends).

The other very interesting question is about the extent to which Sky News as an independent company would move rapidly to expand and diversify. For example, there is a logic to Sky News trying to take control of ITN.

But once again it is important to stress that none of this will happen unless News Corp succeeds in acquiring all of BSkyB - and that is not a done deal.

BSkyB's share price has risen sharply this morning. Its price now well above 800p is saying that News Corp will probably have to offer 850p (or more) to secure its prize - which would push up what News Corp would have to pay in total from £7.5bn to £9.1bn.

The negotiations on price are being led by James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son, who runs News Corp's European and Asian operations.

Up to now he has offered considerably less than BSkyB's independent directors and shareholders want. It is utterly unclear whether James Murdoch will offer enough to achieve his father's wish of bringing BSkyB firmly into the News Corp fold cleanly and quickly.

PS. The importance of the Sky News brand licence coming up for renewal after seven years rather than the 10 years of the carriage agreement is that the phasing prevents a huge crisis at a fixed date of all agreements unwinding at the same time.

As for that brand licence, it is seven years with an option to renew for a further seven years - so it can probably be seen as guaranteed for 14 years.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    No surprises then. Murdoch will find a way of completing the deal and if he has to pay the going rate (circa 850p) this will suggest it is not just financial gain that is the aim. I cant wait for the outcome. Hunt comes out of this unscathed and will not have to be News Corp's target bad boy!

  • Comment number 2.

    Poor Jeremy Hunt he looks good but clearly not much up top.

    Outplayed by the Murdochs even when he had a reasoable hand. He of course is going to try to convince us he really stood up to them - the sad thing is he probably thinks he has.

    The timing of this is interesting given that rumours are circulating of another major expose on the phone hacking stroy.



  • Comment number 3.

    It all hints of a backstage deal to me, and with more grumblings about how the news is being reported by News Corp all I see is spin from both sides
    Now which of the current government will become a non-executive director in this set up? And who will get a knighthood?

  • Comment number 4.

    Why Jeremy Hunt is allowing BSkyB takeover
    ============================================================

    A typical spineless, gutless, piece of brown-nosing, cowtowing to his media elite mates Tory wetbag.

    A disgrace!

    Even Mandelson (who done a lot wrong) had some self awareness and stopped his mate Murdochs taking over Man Utd

  • Comment number 5.

    Hunt did a deal with Murdoch to get backing for his ludicrous local TV obsession, in return for bypassing mechanisms designed to safeguard against such deals.

    when so much of the fabric of our country can be twisted at the personal whims of individuals in government sometimes it makes you wish we'd switch to being a democracy.

  • Comment number 6.

    "There will be criticism both from media rivals, such as the Telegraph, Mail and Guardian, and from grassroots campaigns."

    and from the BBC Robert - I bet the BBC is chewing on wasps about this.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Vince Cable was right and Jeremy Hunt is wrong.

    David Cameron will rue the day that he bent over backwards to accommodate Rupert Murdoch - nothing that he can do from now on can possible be as destructive to the British Nation as this act of betrayal and perfidy.

  • Comment number 9.

    Putting a company's needs ahead of the voters'? Don't worry we'll just wait for Big Society to launch it's own competing satellite media service.

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    "Why Jeremy Hunt is allowing BSkyB takeover" - So, not because he's a Tory then. Can you imagine this outcome if it had been left to Vince Cable?

  • Comment number 13.

    Gah. Catastrophe. Anybody who doubts that this is a problem should have a look at the Guardian's regular columns on Fox News:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/02/us-unions-wisconsin

    ...for example. The fact that crowds have to stand behind Fox broadcasters chanting "Tell the truth!" tells you something.

  • Comment number 14.

    Monopolies huh?

    Say goodbye to long term fiscal security, It's obvious that people in parliament don't know a damn thing about Economics, once again Advisors are pushed aside simply because a politician thinks he knows whats best.

    Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 15.

    Vince who?

    I guess the war is over!!

  • Comment number 16.

    If Vince Cable wasn't allowed to deal with this then neither should Jeremy Hunt, a self-confessed Murdoch fan (see his website). Once again, Britain is betrayed by the idiots in charge. The news is biased enough without the likes of Murdoch getting their greasy mitts on an even greater share of the pie, and you can be sure that their 39% stakeholding in Sky News will increase once the initial ten year period is over.

  • Comment number 17.

    Normally I would be opposed to such a move, but the BBC having so spectacularly failed in it's duty to provide impartiality in its news coverage means that having a powerful rival provide a balance, has become a necessity.

    The BBC has become the PR campaign wing of the labour party of late. There needs to be balance.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Quote: "Don't worry we'll just wait for Big Society to launch it's own competing satellite media service."

    Really? When was the BBC scrapped then? Sky do not have anything like a monopoly.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    I think that the poor reporting on GRASS ROOTS HORROR and CAMPAIGNING in all of the reporting on this has failed to show the government that the people of this country want this blocked. If Cameron is honest, he will ask for an independent enquiry to be kicked off into the possible influence brought to bear on "friends" of Murdoch, this should have been an open and transparent affair with due consideration given to those interest groups, (including a large chunk of the British public), where is the background briefing? The guarantee to not have a News of the World channel on Sky, or, worse, FOX News Europe. This is a disaster for the media in this country.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well that's good news.....it'll be nice to see another media giant with a clearly defined agenda....Yin & Yang, Left & Right, BBC & Sky....

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    Proof, if proof were needed that a: governments are in the pay of the corporations and b: that this government wont take advice from anyone and adopts 'we know what's best' attitude to everything. What's the point of having professional advisers such as OFCOM if you are not going to listen to them?

    There is a fishy smell emanating from Whitehall (yet again). Our government (and those before it) are just as corrupt as those of North Africa and the Middle East but our press isn't allowed to report it as they are one of the ones corrupting the government! Let's hope our revolution comes sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 25.

    How long before Murdoch, buys Sky Newes Back

  • Comment number 26.

    All those who oppose this deal should put up or shut up. Cancel your BSkyB subscription. It would send a message to the top that the general public are fed up with sky high wages in the sporting world and bring the sporting fraternity into the real world. £200,000 per week to play football equals my average annual income over the last ten years!

  • Comment number 27.

    Vince Cable. Lost the battle, lost the war.

    So just so I'm straight on this - Murdoch owns News of the World, the same paper that baited and exposed Vince Cable and effectively had him replaced with a Murdoch yes-man, who then allows the transaction to pass?




  • Comment number 28.

    This will provide increased competition for the conventional broadcasters which must be good. We need a more efficient BBC focused on what customers really want. Hunt has taken independent advice, and published that advice. He is to be congratulated.

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    A terrible decision.
    Murdoch should have less power not more.
    I have never spent a single penny on any of his products and I never will. It is the only way I can ensure that awful organisation has no influence in my life.


  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    Shame they have to sell of Sky 'News' it was probably the only place that might have told us what leverage Murdoch had over the government to get this forced through.

  • Comment number 33.

    News International back the Tories for the last election. Despite it being the Sun "wot won it" they don't get a mandate and can do nothing without the spineless Lib-Dems, but they still have the arrogance to pay back Murdoch's "loyalty" with this roll-over and tickle my tummy decision. When will Clegg and co realise that selling your soul is bad for the country's health: just look at the last lot - they sold out their principles to appease the City and bankers and the City and bankers shafted them and us and most of the rest of the world - and now the bankers and the City own us all. Wave bye bye to your jobs, the truth and civilisation.

  • Comment number 34.

    edgos (#26) is right. Murdough has the power because we support him though our Sky subscriptions and by buying his papers. If you really don't like what he's doing, stop pumping money into his coffers.

  • Comment number 35.

    This is probably the best deal that Hunt could manage.

    I know this is going to upset all those posters (and there are many already) who thing that Murdoch has an unhealthy domination on UK media or that he is some right wing re-actionary (or both).

    Simply fact is that under the existing law Hunt's options were highly limited. It had already been held by the courts that a smaller holding in ITV created control or influence over media output so moving from 39% to 100% ownership as a matter of law makes no difference to whether or not Murdoch had control over Sky output - the law said he already had control.

    Nor could Hunt really invoke anti-competition rules because Murdoch was not a broadcaster in the UK.

    Nor could Hunt change the law - EU would not allow that.

    If you do not like Murdoch and Sky your options are simple - do not buy his newspapers in the morning and only watch BBC and ITV in the evening - over freeview

  • Comment number 36.

    At 09:21am on 3rd Mar 2011, edgos wrote:

    'All those who oppose this deal should put up or shut up. Cancel your BSkyB subscription'

    Don't worry, I am.

  • Comment number 37.

    Why the Suprise!!!! Jeremy Hunt has always been "Rupert Murdoch's man in government" , and Cameron's secret meetings with James Murdoch and Rebekah Wade, and possibly even Rupert Murdoch himself, stink to high heaven. Oh to have a government like Ghadafi's, which is uncorrupt!!! If Cable has any principles left, he should resign now in protest, but I suppose we already know the answer when it comes to the Gutless liberal democrats.

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    Sky news is losing money hand over fist, who would want to buy it ? Unless Old Roop is being canny , offering it up for sale,knowing there will be no takers....No the government could not be that naive ?

  • Comment number 40.

    Next there will be a concerted attack from the government on the BBC.

  • Comment number 41.

    We still live in a free country. No one is forced to watch Sky News, read the Sun, NoW etc.

    You pays your money and takes your choice.

    If you don't like it don't watch Sky or read Murdoch's papers, I don't

    Easy !

  • Comment number 42.

    Well it was pretty obvious that as soon as Jeremy Hunt stepped in, that Rupert would get his way. The private meetings with David cameron and Jeremy Hunt was proof that Rupert Murdoch was doing all he could to push through his own agenda. How many of us can invite the PM over during Christmas for a quick chat?

    I can't see that selling a loss making business is too much of a hardship for the Murdoch's. I actually think its a complete scam, designed to try and make it look like Murdoch was forced to do something he didn't want to.

    What this shows is that Goverment should not be allowed to make decsions regarding the media because the media can influence politics too much. When we needed a strong decision from Jeremy Hunt we got the predictable cave in to the Murdoch's because the Conservative Party has too much to loose if they fight against the Murdoch's.

    Goverment and the Murdoch's must think the elctorate is completely stupid if they think selling SKY News (and whose going to buy it) will appease public opinion. This is a shocking day for the UK and the broadcast media and I really now fear for the future of the BBC, especially with Jeremy Hunt and this pro-Murdoch Goverment in charge.

  • Comment number 43.

    Why are you complaining about the takeover? You don't have to subscribe to Sky and watch its programmes. Monopoly becomes the issue of when rather than if. The trend of the future is the stronger corporations survive and take over the weaker ones resulting in fewer numbers.

  • Comment number 44.

    @30, your quote: "A terrible decision.
    Murdoch should have less power not more.
    I have never spent a single penny on any of his products and I never will. It is the only way I can ensure that awful organisation has no influence in my life."

    I wish I could have the same option with regards to the BBC.

    All the people ranting about Murdoch, in spite of the fact that you can vote with your wallets and NOT purchase his products.

    Yet not a peep about being forced by law to fund the BBC???

  • Comment number 45.

    It's pretty clear what the majority of people think about this disgraceful deal - so why has no one reported the 10s of thousands of protests that Cameron and co have received about this in the past few days, and why didn't Cameron take any notice of them? Perhaps if Judy Dench had phoned him he would have...

    By the way, I still regard the BBC as an innately right-wing body - where is the evidence of its left wing bias that some people here burble about? Is it because they sometimes questions the government's competence? Lawks a mercy!

  • Comment number 46.

    @purpleDogzzz

    Back in the mid-00s (what are we supposed to call that decade? The noughties? I don't think so!) the BBC was endlessly hounding the Labour government about anything and everything - especially Iraq.

    Now, they were quite correct to do so, but the reality is that the government of the day is always the biggest target for the media, as it's the government of the day which is making decisions. If people don't like those decisions, whatever they may be, the media will respond to that - take a look at the comments so far for an idea of public opinion.

    I am somewhat astounded that an organisation which wholly owns and controls Fox News is being allowed to keep any stake in Sky News. The irresponsibility of News Corp in allowing/encouraging the kind of "reporting" to be found on Fox News is breathtaking.

  • Comment number 47.

    Rupert Murdoch is not a British, EU or Commonwealth citizen. He is a US citizen. The US doesn't allow foreign ownership of its media because it recognises the media's importance for a democratic society to function effectively.

    Here are the good reasons why this deal should not be allowed:

    1. The UK should never agree to agreements with other nations which are not reciprocal and in our interest: i.e. broadcasting, extradition, newspapers, airlines, fishing, telecoms;
    2. We should take share of revenue as well as audience into account. By this measure Murdoch is already massively dominant;
    3. Murdoch has previously shown contempt for guarantees of editorial independence with the Times and Sunday Times and their Sky advertorials;
    4. Fox News is a disaster for impartiality;
    5. What happens after the seven years are up? Can Murdoch just establish Fox News and kill Sky News?
    6. The phone-hacking scandal was bad, but what is most indicative of the power and danger of Murdoch's control of the media is that both the police and the political classes appear to have been scared to challenge News International.

    Can anyone seriously come up with six good reasons why this should be allowed? Not from the Rupert Murdoch's point of view, but from UK plc.

    Vince Cable has to take much of the blame, but so does New Labour for spinelessly failing to curtail Murdoch during its long period in power.

  • Comment number 48.

    26. At 09:21am on 3rd Mar 2011, edgos wrote:
    34. At 09:38am on 3rd Mar 2011, JBoy wrote:
    35. At 09:39am on 3rd Mar 2011, Justin150 wrote:

    If you do not like Murdoch and Sky your options are simple - do not buy his newspapers in the morning and only watch BBC and ITV in the evening - over freeview

    A sentiment i totally agree with, if its in your power to change behaviour then go out and do it because as is seen again and again Politicians are open to lobbying from the highest bidder and will do anything they can to protect this.

  • Comment number 49.

    What a surprise! Murdoch is having to much influence in the running of this country,our so called government( who didnt win an election,and got in by telling lies )is so wrong to cuddle up to murdoch, that is not the British way,we the people decide who runs our country not Murdoch.I myself dont by any of his papers now and i dont watch sky news so he does not inffluance me.This so called government has not the guts to stand up to him. On another point has anybody seen our so called deputy prime minister or is he so fed up with his standard of living going down because of the cuts he has fled the country or has he joined the board of news international.

  • Comment number 50.

    Most people are concentrating on the monopoly of news provision but let's not forget the monopoly of sports' coverage. I pay an extortionate amount of money to SKY for sports coverage and have no real alternative as the local broadband is too slow. SKY have also moved some of the top sports' event away from SKY Sports1 and even Sky Sports2 to other SKY sports channels to make it difficult for competitors.

    I do not think Murdoch should be allowed to increase his influence on SKY until a full Office of Fair Trading review has been carried out.

  • Comment number 51.

    News bias isn't the issue here, monopoly of TV programming is. Under EU legislation, we are supposed to be able to subscribe to any satellite TV service we want to (and there are some excellent foreign ones with english audio.) However, due to illegal back-door deals, you just try doing this. Satellite providers only allow subscribers with addresses in their own country! The good news is that DVD sets of your favourite programs are much cheaper than a Sky subscription, so just dump Sky and buy them on disc, watching them when you want to, not when Sky shows them.
    Together with Freeview or Freesat, you get a much better experience (and fewer annoying adverts - why does a subscription service actually have adverts?!)

  • Comment number 52.

    Sky News will be a carve out, not a sale, meaning nothing change. Rupert keeps Sky News, it's purely cosmetic. Anyway people can always switch off if they don’t like it.

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    Political parties being paid and doing deals with big business? Check. Religious zealots trying to control what's taught in our schools? Check. Obsession with oil? Check. Now any slim chance of media impartiality is going the way of the USofA too. This country is quickly losing it's own identity and becoming just like the USA (which also pays lip service to Murdoch and likes to pretend he's one of their own).

  • Comment number 55.

    Notwithstanding my utter distrust of News International and my contempt for that awful power-hungry clan, it would make a refreshing change if a British politician or decision-maker were, for once, to say 'no' to a nation (Often dodgy nations we really shouldn't let British institutions be owned by - even in part), corporation (Often the most beloved and respected national treasures have been stolen or given away at the expense of the British worker) or individual (Often, many of the corporate 'players' are perceived as the most dodgy, slimy and underhand people one could possibly imagine, with far too much power over UK households).

    I have a very long term view of the UK landscape and where we might fit into the global balance in, say, 50 years. It has to be said that selling Britain by the pound as we have been and as it looks like were determined to continue doing, will be the destruction of this nation.


  • Comment number 56.

    Andrew Neill (ex-editor of the Sunday Times) said something really interesting on BBC News yesterday:

    "Murdoch negotiates like an Italian and not like an Anglo-Saxon. The real negotiating starts AFTER the deal is done!"

  • Comment number 57.

    And politicians wonder why we have zero respect for them.

  • Comment number 58.

    British Democracy- sold. (American democracy was sold some time ago)

    What we can expect all care of the Murdoch's future output:
    'Tea Party' UK is just around the corner.
    NHS privatization - now guaranteed. Perhaps a Sky hospital clinic on the drawing already on the board?
    BBC slowly strangulated
    Tory re-elections prospects greatly enhanced

    When we chose to believe deregulated free market is the ONLY panacea for economic well being and sold our railways, sold our utilities etc, we should have read the small print; democracy will become redundant as corporations that now own all means of production will call the tune, regardless of common sense, decency, fairness, science... the list goes on.

  • Comment number 59.

    At his age whats to say Rupert Murdoch will be still alive in 7/10 years time?

  • Comment number 60.

    It is almost unbelievable that Mr Hunt has the nerve to make this deal with the Murdoch family, who so publicly used their newspapers to back the Conservative party in last year's election.

    He has taken it upon himself to do the job of the Monopolies Commission. What possible objection was there to letting the relatively independent Commission consider this matter, as OFCOM recommended?

    The Conservative Party has form in this matter. It was a previous Tory government that blocked a reference to the Commission when the Times and Sunday Times were taken over.

  • Comment number 61.

    But as a condition of allowing the deal, he is forcing Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to spin off Sky News into a new company listed on the stock market, with its own board and whose chairman could not be a News Corporation employee, so not a member of the Murdoch clan.

    - Sounds like a fair compromise Bobby P. This way Newscorp does not have a monopoly. I'm glad Mr Hunt remained objective on this rather than be guided by his emotions a la Vince "Let's go to war," Cable (and I thought Lib Dems were against war).

    Go to the streets Bobby P and talk to the people, I can sense a revolution coming. America is set to have it's first female president (and I don't mean Mrs Clinton) and then we can embark on real change.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    No surprises there then, from the day they outed Cable and his dislike of Murdoch it was odds on they would let this through to appease Murdoch. They may have caved in to retain the power that the newscorp. anti democratic propaganda machine brings them, but I still won't take a subscription to sky. My betting is now on a phone hacking whitewash and more sustained attacks on the BBC as a thank you to the lord and master.

  • Comment number 64.

    @18. At 09:10am on 3rd Mar 2011, You wrote
    Can the moderators explain WHY this comment was removed?
    It was quite simple. It pointed out the very obvious similarity between the situation here (Newscorp owning a large stake in, and being the only customer of, skynews when its spun out, and the situation at a company I worked for - Symbian - which had one very dominant customer who also owned the largest stake, and as a result told Symbian exactly what to do).
    The conclusion from that is obvious - either Mr Hunt is unaware of such parallel situations and the obvious conclusions you can draw, or there are other reasons for his decision. In either case the decision is evidently taken by someone for reasons that are NOT in the public interest...

  • Comment number 65.

    why oh why are people angry and suprised at the result? rupert murdoch runs this country, not dave and nick.this was a done deal as soon as murdoch thought about it.everyone who subscribes to his corporations should be ashamed of funding his regime...were all in this together.

  • Comment number 66.

    Why is anyone surprised at the green light to this deal ? Murdoch decides who will run this country. Now with a lot more to follow ENJOY, for you the voter will soon have no say.

  • Comment number 67.

    Disgraceful decision -- but totally expected! You can "buy" anything from a British government these days, of any colour or affiliation. Ministers are shameless. (It's also hard to ignore the fact that the Tories were assisted during the last election by the Murdoch media machine.)

  • Comment number 68.

    Difficult to see what a lot of posters are getting worked up about - I bet most of the Murdoch haters were under the impression that he already owned sky until recently.

    What I find hilarious is that the main loser in this is the News Corps rival papers, in particular the Telegraph...I wonder if Ms Watts and Roberts are as popular around the office as they were after their invasive 'expose' of Vince's personal views was published?

  • Comment number 69.

    Nobody could reasonably believe this spin-off would be independent.
    The majority shareholder will be Murdoch. He and Jeremy Hunt (or their poodles) will chose the directors and senior managers. Pound to a penny they'll be predominantly the same public school alumni that already control the British media and political agenda. And who try to con us that they have our interests 'at heart'.
    Moreover, the ad revenues will - like the crucial media subsidy - be entirely controlled by Murdoch too. He who pays that piper WILL call its tune!

  • Comment number 70.

    Absolutely outrageous. Murdoch is dictating what the British public can read and now he will dictate what we can watch. How much will he give me for my telly as I don't and never will have Sky.

  • Comment number 71.

    Why Jeremy Hunt is allowing BSkyB takeover

    Easy one that Robert! (?)

    ... because the legal advice that he is receiving is framed in terms of European/EU rather than British legal jurisdiction?

    as nearly always, I'm not absolutely sure ... but I think there is something in this legal issue regarding legal advice

    Just goes to show how parts of big business and the establishment benefit from EU 'over-privilege'.

  • Comment number 72.

    Now the Merde-och will hit the fan and Jeremy Hunt's place in the dictionary of rhyming slang is assured. I believe we now are aware of the real power behind the door at No 10.

  • Comment number 73.

    An absolute disgrace - Our media is now in the hands of cheats, liars, oligarchs et al. As it all stands I am not in the least surprised that this spineless government(now that is a joke) is the patsy to Corporate Cults - Turn your televisions off - Turn your radios off - Revolt or be damned.....

  • Comment number 74.

    I've just had a look at the Dept for Culture website and found that this is a limited consultation and I can't comment on the competition or lack of competition re SKY SPORTS as the EU has already decided that there is not a problem!

    Maybe there isn't a problem on the continent - I wonder? but there is a problem in the UK. This one size fits all approach of the EU is totally misguided.

    I wonder then why the UK is able to regulate on the Newscorp Issue. Don't put too much effort into commenting: might is right; Murdoch will get his way as he has done with the EU.

  • Comment number 75.

    I am of the opion that the reason BSkyB is being allowed this takeover which must amount to them monopolising the news and entertainment industry,is because MP's and other government personel have shares in BSkyB and are once again lining their pockets at the expence of those who cannot afford to pay BSkyB subcriptions and will in the not to distance future be unable to watch anything of National,International and Sporting interest without paying for the privilege.

  • Comment number 76.

    If it really concerns you then vote "YES" to AV in May. Make sure this crooked two-party, system is broken once and for all!!!

  • Comment number 77.


    RP+SF+PM+NR= 'Liberated SN' takeover bid.....sometime soon. An ermine clad individual or two to put up the cash ? No questions asked.

    Discuss with reference to the concept that ' All mirrors distort, but some mirrors distort more equally than others'.

  • Comment number 78.

    @40. At 09:48am on 3rd Mar 2011, IanMurray wrote:

    "Next there will be a concerted attack from the government on the BBC."

    About time too, the BBC has been relentlessly attacking the Government, non stop, for months.

  • Comment number 79.

    58. At 10:35am on 3rd Mar 2011, Cruel_Irony wrote:

    When we chose to believe deregulated free market is the ONLY panacea for economic well being and sold our railways, sold our utilities etc, we should have read the small print; democracy will become redundant as corporations that now own all means of production will call the tune, regardless of common sense, decency, fairness, science... the list goes on.

    ==============================================================

    Yes as myself and WOTW has been saying this is fascism by the back door. We sleep-walk into this politcal-economic model where we are less and less powerless. Democracy becomes redundant or an illusion as per old Soviet Union - you can vote for any neo-liberal candidate you want (NuLabour or ConDems makes no difference).
    After the politics and the economics who knows what will happen? Social engineering and scape-goating of a large influential minority. That'll be the muslims then.


  • Comment number 80.

    How long will the ‘independent’ directors of Sky News retain their status before Murdoch’s power and influence begins to infiltrate their minds and pockets?
    Anyone who thinks that the ‘new’ Sky News will not still be manipulated by Murdoch and his acolytes needs to come back to the real world.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    Thos of you who write these appalling diatribes won't actually understand the logic, that Hunt would have considered all the various options and that this decision is based on real business information. We don't improve competitiveness by hobbling the strongest competitors. Such competition ensures a better use of resources, unless of course this is 007's Global Media Monopolist, and he isn't: there are plenty of other major players that this will shake up to be more competitive.

    Many of the dark comments here are probably harking back to when Murdoch earned the wrath of the "Let's stick our heads in the sand" types years ago by taking on the short-sighted unions who were using industrial terrorism tactics (read Andrew Neil's biography) to maintain the newspaper industry in the 19th Century. Sadly for them, but good for those of us who do care about the quality of the newspapers particularly, and the media and British business in general, Murdoch won through and all of the other newspapers subsequently trooped along in his shadow to introduce the then new technology, which they hadn't been "allowed" to use before. And now workers actually work, they don't just piss on the paper to stop the presses running while at the same time getting paid vast amounts of overtime just for being there! But perhaps those who used to do that are the ones making the automatic anal-retentive comments.

  • Comment number 83.

    60. At 10:42am on 3rd Mar 2011, stanblogger wrote:

    The Conservative Party has form in this matter. It was a previous Tory government that blocked a reference to the Commission when the Times and Sunday Times were taken over.
    ==============================================================

    Yes the Old Witch allowed that sale for 30 pieces of silver - just like all the other National Treasures. When the electricity runs short in the next 20 years I wonder whether the French owned (in part by their state) energy companies will use the power (literally) they have for French consumers or British consumers and I wonder who will be subisidising who. Look forward to much higher bills.

  • Comment number 84.

    Does mean that we are going to get even less income from corporation taxes? Murdoch to my mind is the single biggest obstruction to free press and probably the reason why tax evasion (sorry avoidance) and pressure on tax havens has been driven from the media spotlight.

  • Comment number 85.

    I just don't get all this simplistic advice: 'It's easy. Just stop buying his papers and subscribing to his tv stations if you don't like what's happening.' A bit like suggesting to someone living in Germany in 1939 not to worry about Hitler, 'It's easy. Just cancel your subscription to the Nazi party.'

  • Comment number 86.

    Mr Murdoch's governance assurances on other deals have been largely meaningless. Even with the caveats, who do you think will call the shots with a 39% shareholding when the next highest shareholding is likely to be less than 10% and attributable to a non-active institution?

  • Comment number 87.

    Poor Jeremy Hunt. Obviously bamboozled by something too complex for him to grasp. Listening to too many lawyers' conundrums, one assumes. It's obvious that the new "independent" company will be effectively controlled through back-door influence.

    Poor political strategy too. It would have looked much better to have forced Murdoch to have achieved his aims by legal enforcement in the teeth of government attempts to stop him. The strap line would be "We tried to stop this awful man getting further influence over our media but the judges/system let us down again etc. etc.". Instead, he has ducked the risk of a legal/media scrap and looks like a poodle that rolled over to have its tummy tickled.

  • Comment number 88.

    61. At 10:49am on 3rd Mar 2011, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:
    "Go to the streets Bobby P and talk to the people, I can sense a revolution coming. America is set to have it's first female president (and I don't mean Mrs Clinton) and then we can embark on real change. "

    -----------------------------

    And this is the reason why we don't want Rupe owning all the accessible news media. The US gets Fox News, which backs the disaster area passing for the former senator for Alaska, and transmits hard right wing messages 24/7, actively deriding liberals and the left. Its a primary reason for the catastrophic result in the 2001 presidential elections - Fox news called the election for George W Bush before counting finished in the key Florida state, long before anyone had a real idea, simply because it suited their political agenda, more or less hijacking Al Gore into conceding before the real result was known...

    That is something I really would not like to see anywhere else in the world, but especially not here.

    Furthermore, the 'deal' doen to carry Sky News; what is to stop Murdoch simply importing FOX news as 'competition' on SKY? Or creating his own additional news channel. I do not trust the 'Dirty Digger'...

  • Comment number 89.

    65 oldduffer wrote:
    "why oh why are people angry and suprised at the result?"

    66 cmwalker wrote:
    "Why is anyone surprised at the green light to this deal?"



    I wasn't at all surprised and thats actually the most disappointing aspect. The deal was destined to go through one way or another. However, that doesn't make it right and it doesn't mean we can't vent spleen about it, campaign against it or boycott the brands.

    I will readily agree with other posters that there can be no complaints from those that subscribe to any of the products in question. Those people need to finally get off the fence and at least attempt to make a difference.

  • Comment number 90.

    dje196 wrote: "Putting a company's needs ahead of the voters'?"

    Try this on for size, then, dje196:

    http://thevoluptuousmanifesto.blogspot.com/2011/03/meaty-advice-thats-tough-to-chew.html

  • Comment number 91.

    I loved Murdoch and Maxwell equally.

  • Comment number 92.

    M_T_Wallet wrote: "... scape-goating of a large influential minority. That'll be the muslims then."

    Oh it's already started with those nasty public service workers and their 'gold-plated pensions' and the nasty public services that we don't need (and they're all grossly overpaid and incompetent and lazy etc etc ad nauseum): they're the reason for the deficit and it has nothing whatsoever at all to do with the bankers and financiers ...

  • Comment number 93.

    Why do we care ? The press do what they want anyhow, phone taps, honey traps, wikileaks, guilty by doesn't this person look bad in this picture, of course they did it..

    Reporting is shoddy, blogs are openly biaised, headlines are sensationalist and in most publications a 'cut and paste' generic affair with the same "match report" or 'expose' word for word is deemed acceptable

    Who cares what 'celebrities' are up to, or what bankers are being paid this week or any of the other trite.. the police aren't taking a pay-cut (yesterdays headline), Keith Harrison's credit card bill of 20k that he didn't understand he had to repay is utter garbage news and who even knows who Theodora Richards is, let alone whether she is found guilty of graffiti and minor posession in New York

    On the plus side, it can't be long before Murdoch buys a stealth boat and attacks China or something.. maybe James Bond is real after all ?

  • Comment number 94.

    "78. At 11:21am on 3rd Mar 2011, purpleDogzzz wrote:
    @40. At 09:48am on 3rd Mar 2011, IanMurray wrote:

    "Next there will be a concerted attack from the government on the BBC."

    About time too, the BBC has been relentlessly attacking the Government, non stop, for months.

    "

    Maybe thats because the government has been relentlessly attacking us.

  • Comment number 95.

    82 Chris Shaw wrote:
    "Many of the dark comments here are probably harking back to when Murdoch earned the wrath of the "Let's stick our heads in the sand" types years ago by taking on the short-sighted unions who were using industrial terrorism tactics".

    What if they're not? What if you're wrong? You're certainly wrong in terms of my thoughts on the matter, which means that you're probably wrong too about many other posters of "these appalling diatribes", who "won't actually understand the logic"

    Not too condescending then.

    One final point; maybe there are areas of British life that are good just the way they are and don't need massive and/or radical change? For example; Did cadbury's need to be purchased by Kraft?

    Just a thought.......

  • Comment number 96.

    Seriously though - is anyone surprised?

    I can't bring myself to show any rage as this was a 'done deal' the moment Hunt was moved in like a bishop to protect the queen.

    The Government will never stop Murdoch - only the people can.....in fact you're going to find this is a common thread through many things in your lives in the future.

    Whether is bankers, media mogul's, libraries or the prevention of GP's profitting from their patients - you can forget about Government, they're now totally useless to the people.

    Better off not moaning about it and working out how we stop Murdoch ourselves.

    Best way is to stop using mainstream media for your information and start using the internet - I've found Al Jazeera very enlightening - it's not all about Jihad's and terrorists you know - and it's coverage is much more accurate than any mainstream station.
    ...or you start using you-tube - again you can find the most enlightening of revelations on there....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSCy46BWZJs

    Meanwhile the mainstreamers get something more like this....

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/20/the-ten-most-egregious-fo_n_327140.html?slidenumber=3

    Good luck to them I say - the sort of people who watch this and believe it are the sort of people who already have their beliefs sewn up anyway.

    The revolution will not be televised, there will be no re-run on CNN, there will be no running commentary from Jaqui Onassis, the revolution will not be televised.

  • Comment number 97.

    85. At 11:36am on 3rd Mar 2011, carrigher1 wrote:
    I just don't get all this simplistic advice: 'It's easy. Just stop buying his papers and subscribing to his tv stations if you don't like what's happening.' A bit like suggesting to someone living in Germany in 1939 not to worry about Hitler, 'It's easy. Just cancel your subscription to the Nazi party.'

    - You just compared News Corp with the Nazis, oh dear and thus must this discussion end.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Nor could Hunt change the law - EU would not allow that."

    This Government seems intent on confrontation with the EU over other matters yet apparently they cannot question the EU's stance on the creation of a media monopoly.

    Couldn't be because one of Cameron's first visitors to Downing St was Murdoch, the support Murdoch's organisations gave the Tories in the election and Hunt's admitted admiration of Murdoch could it.

    To me this deal illustrates Cameron's and Hunt's lack of integrity.

  • Comment number 99.

    If the people of this country are really concerned, they have the power to stop this deal. CANCEL THEIR SKY SUBSCRIPTION . It is actually the perfect way to send a message to the government as well as Mr Murdoch. By the way I have cancelled mine !!

  • Comment number 100.

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

 

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