Labour Motion Aims to Prevent Murdoch Takeover

By Louis Makiello, Epoch Times
August 31, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch leaves his London home, on July 20, 2011. He had earlier dumped his bid for control of BSkyB. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)
News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch leaves his London home, on July 20, 2011. He had earlier dumped his bid for control of BSkyB. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)
The Labour Party wants to introduce new legislation that could block a possible new bid by NewsCorp to take full control of BSkyB.

Under the proposed legislation, takeovers could be blocked based on the bidder’s past conduct.

Currently, the Competition Commission and Ofcom can block takeovers if they would result in too much of the market being concentrated in one owner’s hands or if they would diminish broadcasting standards.

The new law would apply a much more wide-ranging public interest test to assess a potential owner’s suitability. Ministers could request that regulators apply the test. They would also be able to intervene at any stage of the takeover process if new information emerged.

Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis said: "These measures are necessary to ensure that while we wait for the outcome of the Leveson inquiry, no changes in media ownership can occur which are not in the public interest.

"It is essential we learn lessons from the BSkyB fiasco so that media integrity is the top priority when considering future ownership and merger changes.

"Ultimately, there is a strong case for removing politicians from media ownership and merger decisions. But, in the meantime, we must act to address the legal ambiguities which allowed Jeremy Hunt to disregard growing public concern and damaged public trust in the credibility of the decision making process."

Mr Lewis will introduce a motion when Parliament returns from recess on September 6th. He has written to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and to the Lib Dem Culture Spokesman Don Foster in order to secure cross-party support, which would allow the motion to be passed without a vote.

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