Feeds

Ofcom in screeching U-turn on BSkyB, begins probe

Wait 'til the cops are done? No, that would be silly

Top three mobile application threats

Ofcom has reversed its decision not to wade into the News Corp and BSkyB row, following public and parliamentary pressure over phone hacking allegations swamping Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

In a letter to three MPs on Friday, the communications watchdog's boss, Ed Richards, outlined a change of direction for Ofcom's handling of BSkyB, which is 39 per cent-owned by News Corp.

"I can confirm that Ofcom is not precluded from acting by the ongoing police investigations," Richards wrote to MPs Simon Hughes, Don Foster and Tim Farron on 22 July.

"I can also confirm that Ofcom's process is not dependent upon a criminal conviction being secured by the police and that we are looking at a range of evidence that may be available."

Politicos are pushing for the regulator to assess whether BSkyB, under the chairmanship of Murdoch's son, James Murdoch, passes the so-called "fit and proper" test to hold a UK broadcasting licence.

But until now Ofcom had insisted it could not undertake an investigation into the company, the remaining 61 per cent share of which News Corp recently tried to buy out before temporarily ditching its bid following cross-party pressure in Parliament.

Indeed, in a meeting with this reporter and other members of the press on 6 July, the Ofcom CEO's stance was quite different to the one he expressed to Hughes et al on Friday.

Richards said earlier this month – as the phone-hacking scandal at News International, the sister company of News Corp, began to unfold – that Ofcom could not intervene on Murdoch's proposed merger of BSkyB until a police probe into phone-tapping allegations at the NI's now-defunct Sunday tabloid News of the World had concluded.

Richards said at the time that any recommendation to block Murdoch's bid to buy BSkyB could not be put forward until facts in the case were established.

"We will consider our position only once the police investigation is complete ... then we'll look at it, if we need to," said Richards on 6 July. "We, like many others, will wait to see what emerges."

Late last week, Prime Minister David Cameron said James Murdoch "still had questions to answer" about the phone-hacking scandal.

Meanwhile, a police probe into illegal voicemail interception allegations against NI is ongoing.

The Register asked Ofcom to explain why it had suddenly reversed its stance over BSkyB.

"Our position hasn't changed; we've always said that we would be in contact with the police and other bodies," said a spokesman at the watchdog.

As part of its inquiry, Ofcom said it had written to Scotland Yard, the Press Complaints Commission and the Information Commissioner's Office. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.