Jeremy Hunt plans competition inquiry into BSkyB bid
Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Culture Secretary, has revealed he does intend to refer News Corporation’s bid for Sky, to acquire the remaining shares it does it already own, to the Competition Commission. However, there’s a but – he has given News Corp more time to address key concerns over the bid.
Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Culture Secretary, has revealed he does intend to refer News Corporation’s bid for Sky, to acquire the remaining shares it does it already own, to the Competition Commission. However, there’s a but – he has given News Corp more time to address key concerns over the bid. The controversial bid by News Corp to take over all of Sky has already seen Vince Cable stripped of his powers to rule on the case while other media organisations have joined together to oppose the take over.
Jeremy Hunt, who has been given the power to judge in place of Cable, has now announced he does intend to refer the case to the competition commission. But he has given News Corp extra time to address concerns about “media plurality”. News Corp owns The Sun, News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times and 39% of Sky – there are concerns if it acquires all of Sky it will have too much control over the UK media. Hunt has now published Ofcom’s report on the proposed bid which was issued to the government on 31st December 2010. He has also released communications between his department and News Corp and said he had met Ofcom and News Corp in early January.
“As a result of these meetings and my consideration of the Ofcom report and subsequent submissions from the parties involved I still intend to refer the merger to the Competition Commission. On the evidence available, I consider that it may be the case that the merger may operate against the public interest in media plurality. News Corporation says that it wishes me to consider undertakings in lieu which it contends could sufficiently alleviate the concerns I have such that I should accept the undertakings instead of making a reference. It is appropriate for me to consider such undertakings” – Jeremy Hunt in a statement.
This means that if News Corp is adequately able to put forward a solution to the issues of “media plurality” Hunt may not refer the deal to the Competition Commission and allow it to take place. This would cause outcry amongst other media organisations. It has also been revealed that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, met with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoc over Christmas – raising questions over if the issue of Sky’s bid was discussed.