The Secretary of State the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP has today confirmed that she will refer the 21st Century Fox bid for Sky for a six-month regulatory investigation by the CMA on the grounds of both plurality of ownership of media and “genuine commitment to broadcasting standards”.
The fact that both parties to the proposed takeover have waived their rights to make further representations demonstrate that this referral was the right step.
The Government, however, continue to suppress the second half of the Leveson Inquiry, which is necessary to bring to light the evidence the CMA needs for a full investigation of the proposed deal.
The second part of the Leveson Inquiry was established to investigate, among other matters, allegations of cover-up and corruption at News International while James Murdoch was the CEO. The Sun – another News UK newspaper – is facing claims of hacking, and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are facing allegations that they destroyed evidence and concealed illegal acts.
Jacqui Hames, who was a victim of illegal intrusion by News of the World, said:
“The Secretary of State has rightly referred the deal to the CMA for a full six-month investigation, but the CMA can only scratch the surface of the criminality and cover-ups which have been the hallmarks of the Murdochs’ ownership of News International and Fox. A public inquiry into these matters has been agreed by Parliament and it is essential that Leveson Part Two is begun before this merger progresses further.
“Referring this bid will not allay the concerns of the victims of criminal activities at News International, who will continue to suspect that this Government has been corrupted on press matters for as long as the Secretary of State goes on delaying implementation of the Leveson reforms and the second part of the Inquiry.”
Commenting, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director Dr Evan Harris said,
“This referral is necessary but not sufficient: for the public to have any confidence in the process the CMA will need to do better than Ofcom and investigate corporate governance failures at Murdoch-owned newspapers
“Everyone knows the second part of the Leveson Inquiry is needed to properly get to the bottom of the misconduct at News International, and how high up it went.”
Notes: Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.