I share concerns raised by constituents about the proposed takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox. The Culture Secretary should refer the bid to the regulator Ofcom once the government receives formal notification of the bid, so that the regulator can assess whether it would result in too much media power being concentrated in too few hands. Ofcom must also assess whether the Murdochs are ‘fit and proper persons’ to run a broadcaster.
When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation sought complete ownership of BSkyB five years ago, the House of Commons united behind a motion calling for the bid to be withdrawn in the public interest. The concerns were not only about the serious wrongdoing being uncovered in the phone hacking scandal but about the concentration of media power and ownership in fewer hands.
Earlier this month, as soon as possible after Sky announced it had received an approach from 21st Century Fox, the Opposition asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons, forcing the government to make a statement. The government was rightly pressed to refer the bid to Ofcom. It must ensure that this proposed deal is properly and independently scrutinised.
In addition, the government should not cancel the vital second part of the Leveson Inquiry, which would look at questions around unlawful or improper conduct within the Murdoch empire.