A number of constituents have written in to me over the last few months expressing concerns about both the Murdoch takeover bid of BskyB and the family’s corporate conduct.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have now said that the proposed purchase of Sky by Fox would hand too much power and influence to the Murdoch family and that the deal in its current form is against the public interest. The CMA’s provisional ruling is a victory for campaigners who have highlighted the influence Murdoch has wielded over successive governments and Prime Ministers.
The CMA has proposed a number of remedies including ‘spinning off’ Sky News or completely divesting it. Labour believes the only way to preserve the independence of Sky News and safeguard media plurality is to block this bid.
It now falls to the Tory Culture Secretary Matt Hancock to show that era is finally drawing to a close by accepting the CMA’s decision and blocking Fox’s bid to acquire the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own.
Today, there was a Ministerial Statement on the CMA’s provisional decisional from the Secretary of State Matt Hancock MP. I took the opportunity to raise the fact that, five years after the phone hacking scandal, there are still civil cases being brought relating to the alleged criminality instigated within Murdoch’s empire and it is critical that Matt Hancock MP presses ahead with Leveson Part 2.
You can watch my exchange with him or read the transcript below:
Jo Stevens MP:
Five years after the phone hacking scandal broke there are still civil cases that are ongoing regarding alleged criminality in the Murdoch empire. There will be victims today that will be very disappointed with the response of the Secretary of State, in answer to my Right Honourable friend (Ed Miliband MP). What would be in the public interest is the commencement of Leveson Part 2, because that would finally reveal the full scale of hacking, and the relationship between the press and the police. So when will the Minister follow the CMA’s lead and act to protect the public interest and commence Leveson Part 2?
Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:
These two questions are separate. We have a consultation out on the Leveson issues, but the thing I really care about in policy terms is making sure we have a sustainable future for high quality journalism. But that is separate from this quasi-judicial decision, that has to be done within the existing law and that’s how I will take it.