Ofcom in screeching U-turn on BSkyB, begins probe
Wait 'til the cops are done? No, that would be silly
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.
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. ®
"When there was a big, Ofcom wouldn't investigate it."
"When there was a big fat brown enevelope, Ofcom wouldn't investigate it."
There, fixed it for you.
Wrong about the reasons #
Posted Monday 25th July 2011 14:36 GMT
Contrary to Ms Brookes testimony/shit flinging exercise last week, I think you'll find that the Guardian was conspicuous in the ICO report for a somewhat different reason to the one you suggest....... conspicuous for their absence.
There has been some speculation that the bid was dropped in an effort to allow News Corp to come back at a later date when this has all blown over and push the bid through; essentially waiting it out until they are in a better position to make and win the bid.
How would OFCOM's decision influence this future potential bid? If they find them unsuitable (which I'd imagine is the public feeling) then how exactly would News Corp make a new bid in the future? and considering BskyB is partly owned by news corp, would it be possible for there be an impact upon their current part-ownership?
I don't know the answers to these questions, however there is indeed potential ramifications for News Corp should they be found unfit, I'd imagine.