Victims of press abuse react to confirmation of Murdochs’ Fox bid with petition calling for Ofcom investigation and Leveson 2

Posted: December 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

In reaction to confirmation of the Fox bid for full control of Sky, Hacked Off have launched a petition calling on the Culture Secretary to refer the proposed bid to OfCom on public interest grounds, citing reasons which include that “there is clear historic evidence of grossly inadequate corporate governance by James Murdoch, the Chairman of Sky and CEO of Fox, when he ran the company’s UK newspapers”.

The petition goes on to call for the Government to continue with Phase 2 of the Leveson Inquiry as this would be essential to enable OfCom to establish whether James and Rupert Murdoch are “Fit and Proper” to hold broadcast licenses with total control of Sky.

 

Commenting, Dr Evan Harris, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director, said:

“The Secretary of State has a clear responsibility to refer the Murdochs’ latest attempt to takeover Sky to OfCom on public interest grounds, and failure to do so will raise serious concerns in light of the Prime Minister’s secret September meeting with Rupert Murdoch in New York. 

“Since the Murdochs’ previous attempt to fully own Sky was abandoned in 2011 amidst the outbreak of scandal, corporate mismanagement and illegality at his newspapers, the threat this takeover would pose to the public interest has increased dramatically. We have since learned that executives at News International lied to Parliament, seen their newspapers reject independent regulation, discovered dozens of secretive meetings every year with senior ministers and heard a judge rule that The Sun newspaper has a case to answer in respect of hacking.

“Meanwhile nothing has been done to alleviate the competition and plurality concerns this media monopoly would create, and no senior executive at Murdoch’s companies during the scandal have lost their job despite it costing their company hundreds of millions of pounds. Indeed, the Murdochs reinstalled Rebekah Brooks to run their newspapers.

“How can these people be trusted with a broadcast licence?”

 

Commenting on the urgent need for Leveson 2 before this proposal can proceed, investigative journalist and Byline director Peter Jukes added:

“From in-depth research for the hit podcast “Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder”, I now know that phone hacking was the benign tip of a much darker iceberg of criminality around News of the World and other newspapers, but this evidence was excluded from Leveson in anticipation of being able to deal with it in Leveson 2. 

“Until we know the depth of the corporate cover-up at News International after the scandals of 2011 and the senior personnel who were ultimately responsible why should broadcast licenses be put in the hands of Rupert and James Murdoch – especially after more than thirty police and public officials were convicted for accepting corrupt payments from Murdoch newspapers, and allegations made in court James Murdoch was involved in the deletion of millions of emails which would evidence corporate wrongdoing at News International?

“Only Leveson 2 can investigate the extent of illegality and corruption that existed at News International, and how much executives and senior police officers must have known.”

 

Notes

The petition can be found online here: [ http://hackinginquiry.org/latest-news/petition-murdochs-bid-for-sky/], or is copied below.

Within hours of going live it has had over 5,000 signatures.

The Terms of Reference of the Leveson Inquiry include “To inquire into the extent of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspaper organisations, and the role, if any, of politicians, public servants and others in relation to any failure to investigate wrongdoing at News International”

 

Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press.  The Campaign works with victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.

 

PRESS ENQUIRIES AND INTERVIEWS: press@hackinginquiry.org or call Nathan Sparkes on 07554 665 940

 

TEXT OF THE PETITION:

MURDOCH’S BID FOR SKY: DEMAND THE TRUTH AND STOP MEDIA MONOPOLIES

We, the undersigned, call on the Culture Secretary to refer the proposed full acquisition of Sky by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Inc. to OfCom on public interest grounds, for the following reasons:

– a healthy democracy requires a plurality of media owners

– complete ownership of Sky would give one individual complete control over more than a third of national newspaper circulation as well as Sky News

– the new company would have a dominant market position raising concerns about anti-competitive practices

– that dominance could easily translate into abuse of power through intimidation of regulators, competitors and critics by Murdoch’s media enterprises

– there is clear historic evidence of grossly inadequate corporate governance by James Murdoch, the Chairman of Sky and CEO of Fox, when he ran the company’s UK newspapers

– Theresa May’s secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch in New York raises serious doubts about the government’s neutrality.

We further call on the Culture Secretary to continue with Phase 2 of the Leveson Inquiry which is due to investigate, alongside police-press corruption, the extent of mismanagement, cover-up, and failure of corporate governance, at News International under the leadership of James and Rupert Murdoch.