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Murdoch's offer to sell Sky News

Robert Peston | 17:14 UK time, Wednesday, 2 March 2011

News Corporation has offered to sell Sky News and also subsidise the channel for years, to allay concerns about News Corp's planned takeover of all of British Sky Broadcasting.

Sky TV remote

As a result News Corp is likely to get the green light for the takeover from Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

One of Jeremy Hunt's close colleagues insisted he has not yet made the formal decision to approve News Corp's £7.5bn bid to buy the 61% of BSkyB it doesn't already own, but didn't rule out that Mr Hunt could do so within hours.

If Mr Hunt allows the bid to proceed, which is what I expect, some will see that as a u-turn, because on 25 January he said he was intending to follow the advice of the media regulator, Ofcom, and refer the planned takeover to the Competition Commission for further scrutiny.

Since then, however, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has made a proposal designed to remedy the harm identified by Ofcom from the deal.

Ofcom was concerned that the combination of News Corp's market-leading newspapers with BSkyB's 24-hour rolling news channel, Sky News, would reduce plurality or choice of news for citizens.

So in what News Corp sees as a significant concession and sacrifice, it has offered to sell Sky News. And because Sky News is lossmaking - to the tune of more than £20m a year according to sources - it has also offered to in effect cover the costs of Sky News for many years through a long-term contract.

Bankers tell me that with such a long term contract in place from BSkyB, Sky News is capable of being sold.

In making his announcement, Mr Hunt would initiate a 15 day period of public consultation.

Critics of the takeover, which include news organisations such as the Telegraph Group and DMGT, owner of the Daily Mail, would complain that News Corporation will become far too powerful a player in the UK media market, if it is able to combine its newspapers (which include the Sun, Times and Sunday Times) with BSkyB's huge, cash-generating broadcasting business.

These opponents of the deal have a problem however, in that their arguments are largely about the impact on competition, not plurality or choice, and the European Commission has already ruled that the combination of Sky and News Corp would not have an adverse impact on competition.

That said, the decision by Mr Hunt to allow the takeover to proceed does not mean the deal will definitely go through - because it is not certain that News Corporation will offer a high enough price to persuade the independent directors of BSkyB to recommend the offer or to persuade shareholders in BSkyB to sell.

Last June, News Corp said it would pay 700p for each BSkyB share, valuing the 61% of the business it doesn't own at £7.5bn.

That was rejected by BSkyB's directors, who said that they wanted more than 800p per share, or around £1bn more in total.

BSkyB's operations have performed well since then, so it is widely thought in the City that BSkyB's independent directors will now be demanding nearer 850p per share.

It is by no means certain that News Corp - whose BSkyB ambitions are being run by James Murdoch, who runs News Corp's European and Asian operations - will offer as much as that.

UPDATE 21:40

If, as the FT reports, what has been proposed by News Corp is a demerger of Sky News to BSkyB's existing shareholders, which include News Corp with 39 per cent, that represents the sale by News Corp of 61 per cent (a majority) of Sky News (on the assumption that News Corp ends up owning all of BSkyB, which is by no means certain).

UPDATE 22:00

The idea of demerging Sky News to BSkyB's existing shareholders is a neat regulatory fix, because in theory that can be seen as representing no change in the relationship between News Corp and Sky News. 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It seems like a fair solution, I think the threat of this was always greatly over excaggerated, the BBC will always balance out whatever News Corp says with centre left opinion.

  • Comment number 2.

    The released Sky News will need a news gathering partner to replace News International's facilities.
    Only DMGT could afford to support a separated Sky News. But do we really need yet more Tory media?

  • Comment number 3.

    If Vince Cable didn't have such a big mouth, things might of been different ..

  • Comment number 4.

    Looks like the Telegraph shot itself in the foot when it sent its hacks out to spy on Lib Dem parliamentarians such as Vince Cable. I despise Murdoch and all his works and he will soon be dictating the news agenda. Look at his unspeakably horrid right wing Fox News in the USA to see how the Murdoch media can distort political discussion and "news" delivery to suit its own ends. It's even known as Faux News by those who recognise it for what it is. Quite soon, then, with Rupert victorious, we can watch the government begin to further dismantle and weaken the BBC until Murdoch - an Australian who is now an American citizen - take over and steadily take us apart.

    There, as they say in the USA, goes the neighbourhood.

  • Comment number 5.

    But if Mr Murdoch subsidises it and it depends on his empire for transmission, isn't it still under his control?

  • Comment number 6.

    Just seen your Six o'Clock report. It is not entirely new that Murdoch might sell Sky News and fund its losses for a while to attract a buyer. That it might happen tomorrow is a surprise. The point is that BSkyB is a fantastic cash-cow which will make NewsCorp even more influential in UK media, society and politics than they already are. Its income is already much greater than the BBC - currently facing serious cuts. I hope you will not be intimidated by the Cameron BBCC jibes, and will point out that the loss of Sky News is not such a big deal for the Murdoch clan when you look at the fantastic income they will get if allowed to buy the two-thirds of BskyB they don't have at the moment.

  • Comment number 7.

    Will someone care to explain to me why exactly is plurality of choice for customers a good thing?

    Do you remember when Sky Sports owned the rights to all the Premier League games and they were forced to off-load some packages to Setanta (and then ESPN).

    What happened then? Despite paying in the range of £20 a month for Sky Sports, customers have to pay an extra £7-10 a month for ESPN now, thereby spending more for an identical product.

    I am sorry but plurality of choice does not help the consumer, it only creates a false economy that the United Kingdom could so dearly live without.

  • Comment number 8.

    Of course the dirty digger will want to sell Sky News.

    He will already have plans to start up another section of Fox news.

    Who will want to show Sky News? It will wither and die.

    Fox News will be shown on Bskyb.

  • Comment number 9.

    No one can possibly be surprised when Hunt gives Murdoch his wish, can they? It's just the same as Osborne and the Bankers.

  • Comment number 10.

    No one can possibly be surprised if Hunt gives Murdoch his way, can they? It's the same as Osborne giving the Bankers their way, isn't i?

  • Comment number 11.

    I advise a small note of caution: don't have James Naughtie report this...

  • Comment number 12.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry, folks - duplicate posts as first didn't originally appear!

  • Comment number 14.

    There was a petition against this not long ago, with around 500,00 signitories, does not public opinion count anymore? Oh no, I was forgetting Iraq, silly me.
    This is a blow against good sense and fair and open debate, it should be blocked.

  • Comment number 15.

    Since it's repeated so often by the Right, I believe every opportunity should be taken to challenge views expressed by #1 that the BBC is centre-left. The BBC isn't. It's independent & balanced. While it tends to give Governments - of whatever colour - a hard time, that's what independence means. I doubt whether Blair or Brown thought the BBC was "centre-left". I think the BBC lets the Opposition (of whatever party) off the hook too much, but that was as true with Cameron as it is with Milliband. The fact that the BBC doesn't see the world through spectacles tinted with the same political views as us, doesn't mean it's biased towards the other side. Long may its independence continue! (& I don't work for the BBC, whose comments have often annoyed me - but I don't expect them to agree with me either)

  • Comment number 16.

    More 'gobbledegook'. Jeremy Hunt and Murdoch - a match made in media take-over heaven?

    Go to the Press Association website and see who the main share-holders are that feed your news reports?

  • Comment number 17.

    This sleight of hand is typical of Mr Murdoch. "Selling" Sky News on permanent contract to BskyB in a very real sense maintains the relationship of control and allows Murdoch to continue to manipulate UK politics by using his news outlets as agents of propaganda to further his empire's interests, as was so blatantly the case during the last election.

    This makes a mockery of our democracy, discredits the profession of journalism and corrupts UK government. If our politicians are so under his thumb they dare not stop him then what recourse does one have but to work to bring down the government? Revolution is in the air.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    I agree entirely with #15. To suggest the BBC is centre-left is nonsense. It has journalists who appear to swing that way (Andrew Marr, Melvyn Bragg); likewise it has journalists who seem more centre-right (Justin Webb, Edward Stourton). It is usually creepingly pro-Establishment in its treatment of royal matters, but as #15 says, is pretty good at questioning the government of the day. Remember it was Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell who did their best to emasculate BBC News after the Hutton Inquiry. In general, I think it's pretty balanced.

    On the Murdoch business, anything that brings the risk of Fox News UK closer can only be bad, and the combination of selling Sky News and getting lots more money could do just that. Sky News has always seemed pretty weak to me, so it's no big loss. And no doubt one of the other rightwing media conglomerates (such as DGMT as #2 says), keeping Murdoch's political line on it intact...

  • Comment number 20.

    Giselle 9 & 10

    'No one can possibly be surprised if Hunt gives Murdoch his way, can they? It's the same as Osborne giving the Bankers their way, isn't i?'

    Exept that Osbourne didn't give the bankers their way. In fact they were furious at him for increasing the banking levy. They were much happier with Labour's position which was to oppose a banking levy altogether (until such time as they were no longer in government).

  • Comment number 21.

    #15, I think you missed my point, I'm not saying the BBC itself is centre-left, I'm saying that its so called analysts tend to be centre left, those are the ones who are expected to express an opinion, it just so happens that their opinions are centre-left.

    I dont see any problem with that particularly, the problem is the notion people have that the BBC is unbiased.

    As a side note, I'm not the 'right', I have different opinions on each part of politics, some of which could be described as left wing, others far-right. I dont subscribe to the idea that all of your views have to occupy some sort of centre ground.

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    @14. At 18:50pm on 2nd Mar 2011, Mal wrote:
    "There was a petition against this not long ago, with around 500,00 signitories, does not public opinion count anymore? Oh no, I was forgetting Iraq, silly me."

    250,000 protestors in Egypt seems to have brought down the government. 1,000,000 protestors in the UK against the Iraq war resulted in... diddley squat. The poll tax riots seemed to work though. Perhaps violence is the answer.

  • Comment number 24.

    With the looney Bankrupt left, sorry, Liebour being propped up constantly by the BBC and it's left Biased Journo's....sky offer the counter weight..

    So BBC, what goes around....

    And Mal (14)...what should be blocked is the Licence fee, wasted on £2billion worth of BBC building work and the movement of BBC staff into the Liebour Heartlands in the North at the Unions (Liebour) request!

  • Comment number 25.

    More or less as you predicted, Robert. How keen will the Murdochs be to pay another 150p per share we will see. On the other hand it is a small price for Murdoch the Merciless to pay for getting closer to World domination.

  • Comment number 26.

    @21. At 19:49pm on 2nd Mar 2011, mr ff wrote:
    "I dont subscribe to the idea that all of your views have to occupy some sort of centre ground."

    You'll only get caught in the crossfire anyway.

  • Comment number 27.

    Much as I loathe Murdoch - or really the decades of governments kowtowing to him (as he did to the Communist China government to stick to their censorship rules to get a foothold), would a Fox News UK really work?
    If he intends it, (he might WANT it but if he does not think it'll make money maybe not), already Kay Burley on Sky is pretty much a laughing stock for her almost child-like questioning and apparent lack of knowledge on the subject of an interview.

    The nearest, though still some distance away, that we have to a Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity style figure, is charming Richard Littlejohn.
    I know he has been on TV here and there, hardly set the broadcasting world on fire has he?
    I recall he had a talk show in the 1990's, on one he goaded some lesbian women (homosexuality being a long obsession of his), however the audience turned on Littlejohn rather than join in.
    Presumably people going to a show of his had an idea, or most of them, what he's about?
    The show didn't last long anyway, Clarkson is of course playing an exaggerated version of himself, including all the buffoonery, this is popular, the UK public I think are less keen on those who take themselves too seriously.

    Also, FOX's audience consists of mainly those who have that as a prime source of 'news', not other channels, not newspapers.

    It's rather like those attempts in the past to set up US style Christian Fundamentalist radio shows here, it just does not travel, not at least to an audience big enough to make it viable.

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't see how the loss making SkyNews will able to turn the corner & standup on its own, if it can't turn a profit whilst leeching off News International's resources it surely is going to find it even harder on its own.

    Its a shame they're being forced down this route, because every talking-head the BBC gets on its news programs certainly leans to the left, channel 4 leans even more to the left and ITN isn't really up to the job.

    Sky News provides a fantastic, fast service that balances the left point of view which permeates through other TV news producers

  • Comment number 29.

    What's this about the BBC being leftist? I'm a leftist, and I consider it to be rather right wing. Or maybe it's in the centre?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'd add, too, that those posters who see Murdoch allowing SKY news to wither so that he can install a version of Fox are probably absolutely correct. If we had any government with any ounce of patriotism, it would see the bully off. As it is, we shall see the BBC, a public organisation (and not without its faults - one football team does not 'win over' another, it 'wins against', unless it's Manchester United and their oponents end up thinking the players are really quite nice) is cheap for the price, and still excellent in parts. Those parts tend to be radio, these days, for, with television it has lost its nerve and dumbed down.

    Wow! Isn't the internet great for the rambling bore with time on her hands?

  • Comment number 31.

    Surely no one can honestly compare Fox news to the BBC. It's like comparing the Nolans to the Beastie boys!!

  • Comment number 32.

    @7, Cheshire Indian:

    >Will someone care to explain to me why exactly is plurality of choice for customers a good thing?

    To use your analogy, before Sky Sports were forced to share Premiership rights, Sky Sports was basically wall-to-wall football.

    Following the advent of Setanta and ESPN, there are now three to five NBA matches shown in the UK every week, and that has more recently pressured Sky to pick up one British Basketball League match a week- up from the pre-Setanta count of one NBA (on C5, now gone) and zero BBL.

    It has helped the consumer as *this* particular consumer, one who has no interest in football but does enjoy basketball, is now actually catered for, which didn't used to be the case, and can on occasion actually see his local team's away matches.

  • Comment number 33.

    The truth is that the various Murdoch organisations control far too much of the media. He, and anyone else for that matter, should be given a choice. You can have TV or you can have Newspapers, but you can't have both.

  • Comment number 34.

    #29 Centre-left I said, obviously its not left wing.

    I miss the left in politics, its the centre I despise, trying to please everybody by going against your values isn't the way politics should be.

    I'm hoping 'red ed' really does move the labour party some way to the left, and the conservatives move to the right, then I might have a real choice when I go to the ballot box, but I doubt it.

  • Comment number 35.

    What will this man not sacrifice for world domination!

  • Comment number 36.

    34. At 20:41pm on 2nd Mar 2011, mr ff wrote:
    #29 Centre-left I said, obviously its not left wing.

    I miss the left in politics, its the centre I despise, trying to please everybody by going against your values isn't the way politics should be.

    I'm hoping 'red ed' really does move the labour party some way to the left, and the conservatives move to the right, then I might have a real choice when I go to the ballot box, but I doubt it.
    ========================================================

    Very well said. I have spent my life watching choice being extracted from politics year by year, election by election, until all that now remains is the world's ugliest beauty contest. Opinion is now a dirty word, but the trouble is that principles went out of the door along with opinions. To call the anodyne stew we are now stuck with a democracy is truly an abuse of language.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Murdoch's offer to sell Sky News" is the title of Robert Peston's blog.

    Hilarious 'news' - Mr Murdoch. There are no limits, boundaries or borders are there?

    Who is that in your back pocket again .... ?

  • Comment number 38.

    Murdoch/Jeremy Hunt. A great team before the 2010 Election. Am laughing on the inside, because it would be impolite to do otherwise.

    Plus, you don't have to be close to something to notice a familiar behaviour?

  • Comment number 39.

    If news corp takes control of bskyb i would like to see sky rebranded fox. The sky brand is outdated and fox sounds better. Doubt murdoch would sanction it though

  • Comment number 40.

    Looks like everybody and his dog can see the stunt that's being pulled here. But old Rupe just can't stop himself, can he? There are petitions, people bad-mouth him, but he's still convinced he needs to go on.

    Give up, Rupert, for crying out loud and give your kids a chance.

  • Comment number 41.

    So, if I have read this correctly News Corp would still own a - presumably controlling - 39% stake in Sky News?

    And this is now likely to please Jeremy? Oh, please! It seems Murdoch has offered us absolutely nothing, yet that useless Hunt will wave the whole thing through whilst telling the rest of the UK that he's sorted the problem.

  • Comment number 42.

    28, there have have three major bust ups between the BBC and governments - accusing them of being 'biased' and 'out to get the government'.

    1. Harold Wilson in the 1960's, who became rather obsessional about it. Labour - well to the left of them today too.

    2. Maggie Thatcher in the 1980's, who became rather obsessional about the whole thing.

    3. Tony Blair in 2003/4, who through a certain Mr Campbell, became VERY obsessional about the whole thing.

    That's two upsets of Labour governments, one Tory

    Then there is a very obsessional Daily Mail, however surely being hated by that rag is a kind of badge of honour?

    Seems governments sometimes don't like the BBC reporting stuff they rather not have reported.
    Especially if it catches them out.

    The source of New Labour's obsession with the BBC, that wonderfully successful little adventure into Iraq, had the strong anti war types castigating the BBC for being too 'pro war', then the usual Murdoch/Mail/Telegraph suspects, castigating the BBC for an 'anti war' bias.
    I think that's called getting it right.

    But of course the BBC do not get it right sometimes, being staffed by fallible humans, they twist, react too slowly, get themselves into all kinds of knots.
    What they don't do is pretend they have not messed up, most unlike the Murdoch rags, check the coverage of the snowballing illegal phone tapping scandal in them, or lack of it.

    Is there something in our governing classes DNA that gives so much to a man who has never hid his contempt for this country and it's institutions, believes that paying tax here is for 'little people', who has a proven and long track record of reneging on agreements.

  • Comment number 43.

    Who cares about Murdoch?

    Lets talk about Marxism and how brilliant it is for a change.

  • Comment number 44.

    Heard on the BBC Radio 2 news that it is thought that Jeremy Hunt may approve this takeover tomorrow, proof positive that Murdoch runs this country through his puppet Cameron, who saw that he had as much time as possible to find a way around a referral as he needed with a solution which fools nobody - not that Cameron would be bothered about that anyway as he regards everybody as a fool, with the exception of himself of course - the arrogance of the man knows no bounds.

  • Comment number 45.

    There is nothing that Rupert Murdoch can do to make his purchase of BSKYB acceptable. He already own/controls far too much of the media and must not be permitted to extend his monopoly.

    Let's face it Rupert Murdoch will mostly probably be dead before the next election so there is not point in buttering him up. Further when he dies, which will be fairly soon, due to his age, all hell will break loose between his potential successors. All of whom are worse and less acceptable than the father! It is time News Corp. was broken up!

  • Comment number 46.

    "Murdoch's offer to sell Sky News" is the title of Robert Peston's blog.

    Are there are no lengths?

    Jeremy Hunt and Mr Murdoch had a history before the 2010 Election. (TheyWorkForYou.com) as a guest of Murdoch - how can Jeremy Hunt be impartial?

    In fact, how can the Conservatives be impartial as regards to anything that Murdoch et al attempts to propose in any way, shape or form?

    Go to the Press Association website and discover the main shareholders ... and discover who is delivering your 'news'?

  • Comment number 47.

    You don't have to stand next to something to detect an odor?

  • Comment number 48.

    I wonder if the misgivings people have isn't so much about Murdoch's takeover, but about the effect that takeover will have on "information". The free flow of information is, I think, essential to modern living, and I think the reason for the failure of Communist Bloc (let's briefly leave aside politics and economics for a second) and the perceived success of the West (again, let's briefly leave aside the current systems) is the information one has, in whatever form. If you cut somebody's access to information, you restrict their ability to function: I as an engineer depend on access to technical manuals and the ability to discuss engineering matters with other people; I should imagine that those in the financial industry depend on the information pertinent to their specific field in order to provide the best returns for their customers or alternatively, shaft them in the most profitable manner. If anyone has has lost their internet connection, it can be a significant issue, admittedly nowhere near a problem such as a major environmental disaster, but the exchange and discussion and provision of ideas is paramount. The Greeks and Romans flourished probably as a result of this, and when a dictator is installed who restricts the exchange of ideas and such this has, in my view a significant contributory factor to their subsequent downfall. Er, perhaps.

  • Comment number 49.

    WRONG!

    BBC has a left bias.

    Lord Ashcroft. News Story broke by the BBC on a Monday in March 2010.

    I counted. They kept the story alive (via Nick Robinson) for 18 days and 9 hours.

    At the same time the "Union Modernisation fund" (£4million a year given to the unions by Labour in Government got.....

    ONE DAY on a FRIDAY evening with ONE Interview by Nick Robinson.

    The BBC is left leaning and most on here don't like it being said.

  • Comment number 50.

    This is the worst news for British democracy in ages. Fox UK (whatever it'll be called) will result and the results will be identical to the state of the 'democracy' currently enjoyed by our American cousins.

    The Tories it seems have no choice but to genuflect to their pay masters so Murdoch will get whatever he wants. It's really no surprise it has come to this as Senator Kerry in the States recently said, "democracy was sold to the highest bidder some time ago."

  • Comment number 51.

    20. At 19:38pm on 2nd Mar 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:
    Giselle 9 & 10

    'No one can possibly be surprised if Hunt gives Murdoch his way, can they? It's the same as Osborne giving the Bankers their way, isn't i?'

    Exept that Osbourne didn't give the bankers their way. In fact they were furious at him for increasing the banking levy. They were much happier with Labour's position which was to oppose a banking levy altogether (until such time as they were no longer in government).

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

    Excuse my scepticism over the fury of the banks! Osborne announces Tuesday, 8 February 2011 he is bringing forward the levy so the banks pay £800m for part period. Osborne announces Wednesday, 9 February 2011 that the long-awaited Project Merlin deal is completed and the bankers should no longer be bashed!

    My scepticism says that the bankers' fury was utterly fake and it was most likely an attempt to make Osborne look like he was being tough on the banks (immediately before they let loose on their bonuses)! A scam in my language. And, heh, what's £800m to the bankers?

    This is from Peston's blog on 8 February reference the bankers' fury:

    "We have been negotiating with the Treasury in good faith, on the assumption that the Chancellor would not spring nasty surprises like this on us," said a banker. "We had no idea this was coming and quite frankly some of us are livid."

    The question the bank bosses will discuss this afternoon is whether it remains sensible to sign up to Project Merlin, if they can't be certain that the government will resist the temptation to periodically bash them when the political heat is on.

    "The whole point of Project Merlin was to reach an accommodation with ministers, to end bank bashing," said a banker. "Is there any point for us of doing Merlin if it begins with what some of us would see as betrayal?"

    The government remains hopeful that Project Merlin will still be signed. An official said it was impossible to give the banks advance warning of the tax rise for legal reasons. ---


    More ... The Daily Telegraph on 2 March said, "Ministers have, however, shied away from reimposing the one-off bonus tax levied by Labour last year – which brought in £3.5 billion – and have opted for a "levy" on banks' balance sheets which will raise around £2.25 billion a year". Labour said the coalition should demand another £3.5 billion tax on bankers' bonuses.

    Treasury officials insisted the Government had "played hard ball" with the banks and won.

    More ... The Guardian 8 February said, "Osborne should have stayed in bed. There was no need for the chancellor to go on the radio at 7.30am (on 8 February) to forewarn the markets about his £800m add-on to the bank levy. Investors shrugged their shoulders. Bank share prices were gloriously untroubled. Lloyds Banking Group even ended the day among the top 10 risers in the FTSE 100 index. Some tax-grab.

    The City, of course, had twigged the real story: the immediate increase in the levy to £2.5bn was a face-saving gesture by a chancellor who knows the Project Merlin "peace deal" with the banks will be seen widely as a surrender on the part of the government. In other words, the £800m inconvenience for the banks has prevented anything truly nasty.

    More ... BBC 8 February Robert Peston: The one-off tax, introduced by Alistair Darling, raised £2.3bn - after taking account of the tax reducing income tax and corporation tax receipts. This compares with £1.7bn raised by Mr Osborne's first bank levy.

    However, the extra £800m being raised by the increased levy was relatively small, our business editor said, and was "probably of more importance from a symbolic point of view - perhaps indicating a touch more iciness in ministers' attitudes to the banks - rather than from a budgetary perspective".

    The shadow chancellor called on the government to retain the bonus tax on top of an increased bank levy.

    ----
    I can read between the lines. Can you? So, I stand by my original comment, which equates the Murdoch likely give away with Hunt with the actual give away by Osborne to the Banks.

  • Comment number 52.

    Sorry forgot to add.

    Regardless of the (well opinionated) bias from the Socialist Broadcaster Corporation, I think the whole Murdoch thing stinks like a sewer rat.

    Remember this one tiny fact in all this fuss;

    BBC License fee. Tax. You have to pay for it or you could go to jail.

    Anything from Murdoch. He costs you money yes, but you can avoid his papers or switch off his TV and pay him NOTHING! Not a bean!

    I don't like the BBC, but I still have to pay for it.....

  • Comment number 53.

    Relinquishing control of one of the national newspapers would have been a fairer deal than selling a loss making part of the empire that can be set up again in 5 mins. Quite how an elected goverment feel they can put the wishes of one man before the wellbeing of the entire nation I don't know.

  • Comment number 54.

    If anything in the broadcast media should be broken up, it is the BBC.

  • Comment number 55.

    The whole thing is really a convoluted question of semantics and in reality pretty much a non-issue for a variety of issues.

    First, with a 39% stake, Murdoch pretty much controls BSkyB anyway so the takeover will make minimal if any difference to the editorial slant of Sky News or the conduct of News International's print titles.

    Second, Murdoch is far more concerned about extorting large profits from UK consumers by acquiring a monopoly over content streams than he is about actively trying to alter UK politics. Murdoch is solely motivated by prestige, power and ultimately money. His interest in UK politics is highly superficial as is his actual impact. All this whole debate does is provide Murdoch with an unjustified boost to his ego.

    Third, there is a very good chance BSkyB will prove significantly overvalued in the medium term. The ongoing squeeze on consumer finances will exacerbate attempts to increase subscriber revenue. However, in addition the rise of internet TV, catch-up and video on demand services along with highly integrated one-stop payment systems such as Apples itunes and Google One Pass will massively erode BSkyB's dominant position as the key UK broadcaster of ad supported TV channels and premium sport and film content.

    The only reason this is an issue is that other vested interests (i.e. newspapers, ITV & BBC) have seen an opportunity to publicly harangue and denigrate a rather unpopular but successful competitor.

    The BBC, Channel 4, ITV and partners have a great opportunity to deal BSkyB a serious blow with their You View project, however based on the latest info they seem to be making a complete hash of it. So BSkyB and News Corps are likely to have several more years of vast profits left before high speed broadband and the advance of Google and Apple finally ends the growth of Murdoch's empire.

  • Comment number 56.

    As point 5 says, the subsidy is Sky News' lifeline so there is still a link. If News Corp start to feel unhappy then any gamblers out there know the odds the contract to subsidise will run into a technicality well before its term is up?
    I kind of agree with point 55 too. Let him have his pay-per-view subscriptions, the traditional papers will die and if he tries to run the same PPV model on his online news then he'll hopefully shoot himself in the foot.... although judging by the people who already subscribe to Murdoch dross makes me sadly beleive that people will read any old rubbish anyway.
    But that begs the question... if all commercial interest and financial streams are seen as potential corrupters of the messenger... then who the heck can pay for it, as some people aren't even happy with the BBC's model.

  • Comment number 57.

    "15. At 18:55pm on 2nd Mar 2011, lacplesis37 wrote:

    Since it's repeated so often by the Right, I believe every opportunity should be taken to challenge views expressed by #1 that the BBC is centre-left. The BBC isn't. It's independent & balanced. While it tends to give Governments - of whatever colour - a hard time, that's what independence means. I doubt whether Blair or Brown thought the BBC was "centre-left"."

    Well, that's because New Labour was (is) a right of centre party, it only pretends to be anything else to keep it's core voters onside.... Personally I agree that the BBC is pretty fair and reflects the general opinions of the population of the UK. The general opinions of people in the UK though are now way to the left of all of the parties standing for election (well the ones who can get any reasonable number of seats anyway).

    That's what happens when governments are just interested in enriching the few, the many have no one to vote for.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well well, who'd have thought it, Murdoch's little puppet lap dog in government will approve the deal.

    Any bets as to where Mr Hunt is going to get a job after his time in government?

  • Comment number 59.

    43. At 22:25pm on 2nd Mar 2011, blacksheep44 wrote:

    Worry not - wait till WOTW gets here. He is a bit of a late starter in the mornings. Enjoy the moment...

    Anyway, it made me chuckle :-)

  • Comment number 60.

    48. At 23:08pm on 2nd Mar 2011, Stuart Wilson wrote:

    Well, the communists in Eastern Europe controlled the media tightly, despite valiant efforts from the likes of Radio Free Europe. You always got a twisted and one-sided view of events, how rotten the Capitalism is and how people in the West are suffering hardship and being exploited. Does that sound familiar to you...?

    So you always got one sided view of events everywhere with no opportunities to verify with anything else.

    So yes, once the gates were thrown open to the world and people actually went out to see that the life in the West was actually much better than as described in the state-owned media, the whole edifice has slowly but surely crumbled.

    With the dominance of internet, however, and plethora of other media I am not quite sure News takeover will have that much impact on freedom of information.

  • Comment number 61.

    52. At 23:23pm on 2nd Mar 2011, DIRKSTER wrote:

    I don't like the BBC, but I still have to pay for it.....
    ******************************************
    No you do not.

  • Comment number 62.

    This seems to be a workable deal - though the share of new news organisation controlled by Sky should probably have been reduced - below the 29% level?

    Either way, it safeguards quality news reporting and the competition to the 'pulp fiction' put out by BBC News.

  • Comment number 63.

    Isn't it also about time that Sky was subjected to some sort of monopoly investigation, it was never the intention that one company should have the UK market all to itself which is why the Thatcher Government gave out licences to Sky and BSB seperately?

  • Comment number 64.

    Rupert is a VERY dangerous man. Maybe the media is the "new" way to invade and take over countries.

    You Brits better get it together. This is VERY Bad news. This is NOT GOOD! OPEN YOUR EYES TO THIS BLIGHT THAT WILL ONLY SPREAD LIES.

  • Comment number 65.

    Is there anything in the agreement that would ensure that once Murdoch has control of BSB that he cannot develop any new News channels? If not, why not? After all, if SKY NEWS is losing over £40m a year doesn't this suggest that the Murdochs have non-economic reasons for supporting such an expensive part of the Sky offer?
    Anyone with a brain can understand that as far as he is concerned the £40m is a price worth paying to ensure that he is able to maintain his political influence and to support his right wing agendas.
    If this deal is eventually transacted he must never be allowed to be in a position where he can develop alternative news services on BSB. The last thing we want to see in the UK is a Fox style news channel pandering to political and religious extremists and hosted by Wacko lunatics.
    It's time for the Camerons and Blairs of this world to stand up for what is self evidently right for the country ahead of their own political positioning and gains.

 

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