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BSkyB CEO confirms he pulled Sky News story on F1

March 21st, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, has confirmed that he asked Sky News to pull a story on Formula 1, ahead of the launch of a Sky F1 HD channel.

The Financial Times yesterday reported that Darroch “ordered a news story to be removed from the Sky News website after an executive producer complained that it had upset Formula 1 racing teams”.

“I asked the team to review the story,” Darroch told the Guardian Changing Media Summit, where he was delivering a keynote speech in which he announced the launch of a no contract, pay-as-you-go internet TV service from Sky called NowTV.

He said Sky News “has absolute independence and integrity” but added that “there are times as CEO … when you have to challenge parts of the business”.

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Labour calls for amendments to media takeover rules

August 30th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Politics

Labour is calling for an “emergency” amendment to the law in relation to media takeovers to give ministers greater power to intervene, following News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB.

According to an announcement by the party on Sunday (28 August) it hopes to “close legal loopholes” identified during News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, before the conclusion of the Leveson inquiry. News Corporation eventually withdrew its bid as phone hacking allegations continued to be mounted against its now-closed News of the World title.

Under the proposed amendments to Section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002, outlined by shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis in a letter to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, ministers would be given powers to ask regulators to apply “a wide ranging public interest test as well as a fit and proper person test”, from the start.

The changes also call for ministers to be able to intervene at any stage “if new information came to light”. Lewis will put these proposed measures before both the House of Commons and House of Lords when the summer recess ends in less than a week.

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Select committees: Reaction to appearances by police, the Murdochs and Brooks

July 20th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Politics

The focus on Twitter seemed to be entirely on the appearance of Murdoch and son, Rebekah Brooks and two senior Metropolitan police officers at two parliament select committees yesterday (19 July).

Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates appeared before the home affairs select committee, before Rupert and James Murdoch – and then Rebekah Brooks – came before the culture, media and sport committee.

Below is a Storify to show some of the reaction on Twitter to MPs’ questions and the responses MPs received.


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Financial Times: Clearance on BSkyB bid delayed by at least two weeks

May 10th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Clearance on News Corporation‘s bid for the remainder of BSkyB will be delayed by at least two weeks, the Financial Times reported this week, “after a hitch in negotiations between Rupert Murdoch’s media group and UK regulators”.

People familiar with the talks between the two sides said on Monday, that the delay had been caused by the level of detail that Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport required in a merger remedy offered by News Corp.

The remedy was for Sky News to be spun off into a separate company called Newco to address concerns for media plurality.

See the full FT report here (FT.com does operate a registration model).

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Telegraph: Sky News to be ‘hived off’ into independent trust

March 2nd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The Telegraph has reported that it understands that it is to be proposed that Sky News is ‘hived off’ into an independent trust as part of News Corporation’s efforts to assure Ofcom that its bid for full ownership of BSkyB will not reduce media plurality.

In January culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that he had delayed his decision over whether to refer News Corporation’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission, as advised by Ofcom, in order to hear further “undertakings” from the company.

According to the Telegraph’s report the soon-to-be proposed independent trust would be funded by News Corp  in the long-term.

Essentially, the arrangement will see Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation cede control of Sky News.

Government sources said yesterday that Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has not yet made his decision, as he is waiting to receive the submissions from the OFT and Ofcom.

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Peston: Ofcom has recommended BSkyB bid go to competition commission, that is a fact

January 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Politics

BBC business editor Robert Peston has insisted that claims he made earlier today about a recommendation from Ofcom to put News Corp’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission is not just speculation.

Update 12:59: I slightly regret the way I wrote this post, because some of you seem to think this is speculation.

It isn’t speculation.

What I am saying is very simple: Ofcom has recommended that there should be a full Competition Commission enquiry into News Corporation’s plan to buy all of British Sky Broadcasting.

That is a fact.

The report by Ofcom has not yet been made public, with the regulator and Department for Culture Media and Sport telling Journalism.co.uk recently that they could not comment on the contents of the report until culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has responsibility for the decision, has made an announcement.

Jeremy Hunt discussed the bid in an debate at the LSE with Raymond Snoddy last night but refused to comment in any detail on the decision making process.

In a separate meeting last night, journalists held a campaign meeting at the Houses of Parliament where Lord Razzall said “all hell would break loose” if Hunt were to ignore a recommendation by Ofcom to refer the bid to the Competition Commission.

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News Corp Sky bid: Church of England weighs in

November 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Business, Editors' pick

Following Ofcom’s publication of an invitation earlier this month for submissions in relation to News Corporation’s bid for the remaining share of BSkyB that it doesn’t already own, the Church of England has reportedly made its concerns known this week.

According to the Guardian, the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, who is also the lead media spokesman for the church, said in a submission to Ofcom that if the bid were accepted it would place News Corp in a position of dominance across two media platforms.

“A News Corporation in full control of BSkyB would combine one of the three significant suppliers of TV news (BBC, ITN and BSkyB), one of the two suppliers of radio news (BBC, BSkyB) and the group with the biggest market share of national press in the UK. It would dominate both the television and newspaper landscape.”

McCulloch said that at the very least there should be an assurance that the independence of Sky News will be preserved in any circumstance, whatever the outcome of the bid and inquiry.

In a submission from Sky itself to Ofcom, the broadcaster claimed that even if Sky News ceased to be an independent ‘voice’ from News International, its small share of viewing figures would mean those who relied on this independence would be “extremely low”.

In the light of these findings, it is relevant that Sky News’ share of national television news viewing remains small at around 7 per cent (potentially lower if viewing of smaller specialist news channels is taken into account) and alternative sources of news, in particular via the internet, have risen considerably in prominence since the CC BSkyB/ITV Report. Further, with regard to the Competition Commission’s third finding referred to in paragraph 4.14 above, even were Sky News to cease to be an independent “voice” from News International following the Transaction, the percentage of the UK population who could be said to have relied upon Sky News as such an independent “voice” (and who therefore would in practice suffer from a loss of plurality) would be extremely low.

In a report on Sky’s submission paidContent said the broadcaster is “effectively trying to limbo under a threshold for plurality, which takeover opponents would be reduced, by framing the bid in the wider context of the last decade’s ongoing internet content explosion”.

In doing so, it is also trying to get the regulator to focus on just one of the content areas in which it operates, saying: “The appropriate focus of Ofcom’s investigation is on national news, rather than the broader content genres (such as entertainment, fiction or drama) referred to in Ofcom’s Invitation to Comment.”

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Telegraph: Blocking Sky bid may jeopardise News Corp UK investment, warns James Murdoch

November 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Business, Journalism

Rupert Murdoch’s son James, who heads News Corporation’s Europe and Asia operations, warned that it could relocate some of its most innovative projects to more “welcoming” countries if its bid for Sky is blocked by the UK, according to a report by the Telegraph.

Earlier this month, business secretary Vince Cable issued an intervention notice ordering Ofcom to investigate the impact on media plurality of News Corporation’s proposal to acquire the remaining shares of BSkyB.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona yesterday, James Murdoch said the Government must decide whether it wants to risk “jeopardising an £8 billion investment in the UK”, the Telegraph reported today.

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Telegraph: European Commission raises rights questions over News Corp Sky bid

November 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is believed to be days away from formally notifying the European Union of its interest in the remaining 60.9 per cent of BSkyB that it does not already own.

According to a report by the Telegraph, the EU has “informally questioned how News Corp will manage future rights deals if it were to fully acquire BSkyB”.

A formal investigation by the competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, will not begin until News Corp makes its notification. Rupert Murdoch, chief executive, said on 4 August that News Corp would notify the EU “very shortly” and sources have now said it is “imminent”.

In September, Journalism.co.uk reported that News Corp’s rumoured bid had led to calls on business secretary Vince Cable to issue an intervention notice in the interest of media plurality from the NUJ and founder of Enders Analysis Claire Enders.

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Guardian: Murdoch’s media fightback over letter to Cable

A letter signed by numerous media organisations including the BBC and sent to business secretary Vince Cable earlier this week, calling on him to intervene with a planned bid by Murdoch for the remainder of BSkyB, has sparked quick responses from Murdoch’s other media outlets.

According to a report by the Guardian, it was first an editorial in News International’s The Times yesterday, which claimed that BBC director general Mark Thompson had made a “serious and surprising error”.

By lending his name to the campaign to prevent News Corp from purchasing those Sky shares that it does not already own, Mr Thompson has made a serious and surprising error. He has embroiled his taxpayer-funded organisation in a political and commercial battle that it should have nothing to do with.

Then today the Sun’s columnist Kelvin MacKenzie added that Murdoch should be encouraged, not stopped.

The fact that Sky is so successful is due to his three-word mantra: invest, invest, invest. When you look at the list of business duds opposing him, what’s quite clear is they have chosen to survive by three other words: Cut, cut, cut. …It’s hard to know why Vince Cable wouldn’t nod the deal through as Rupert has always run Sky thanks to his near 40% equity ownership and the right he has to pick the chief executive.

… The reality is that Sky owns very few of the channels it broadcasts and many of the stations have minute audiences – especially compared to the state monopolists at the BBC. The issue for our nation should not be how to stop Mr Murdoch investing in Britain but how to encourage him – and many more like him.”

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