The Secretary of State the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP has today announced that she has received reports from Ofcom which recommend that the 21st Century Fox bid for Sky is referred on plurality grounds, but that it is cleared to proceed on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards which includes “corporate governance”.
Ms Bradley’s “minded to” decision is to accept Ofcom’s recommendation and proceed to a CMA referral on plurality grounds only.
The Second half of the Leveson Public Inquiry was established to investigate allegations of cover-up and corruption at News International while James Murdoch was the CEO. The Sun, another News UK newspaper, is facing a civil trial of claims for phone hacking and illegal blagging in October which date from Rebekah Brooks’ editorship of the paper, as well as a civil trial of allegations that she and James Murdoch destroyed evidence and concealed illegality.
Commenting, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director Dr Evan Harris said,
“Hacked Off condemns the Secretary of State’s failure to refer the bid on commitment to broadcasting standards grounds, given the Murdochs’ appalling record of corporate governance failures. Ofcom would have been able to recommend referral on those grounds if the Government had not delayed and blocked the second half of the Leveson Inquiry, which was established to investigate the mounting evidence of misconduct against James Murdoch and those with which he worked. The Secretary of State must now begin Leveson Part Two immediately, and allow that Inquiry to report before considering this merger further.
On the “plurality issues” Dr Harris added,
“Karen Bradley should not waste time on “undertakings”. Undertakings in Lieu from the Murdochs are not worth the paper they are written on, and cannot possibly be considered by the Government as a remedy for Ofcom’s concerns. The Murdochs promised not to interfere in the editorship of the Times, and former Times editors James Harding and Sir Harry Evans are living proof that their undertakings are meaningless and will be disregarded when it suits them.”
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.