Feeds

Ofcom probes deeper, wider in BSkyB 'fit and proper' test

Murdoch biz inspection intensifies

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Ofcom has widened a regulatory investigation scrutinising whether BSkyB - under the chairmanship of James Murdoch - passes the so-called "fit and proper" test (PDF) to hold a British broadcasting licence.

A Freedom of Information request sought by the Financial Times revealed that the communications watchdog had begun a deeper probe of the company, which is 39 per cent-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

His son recently moved to New York and, in doing so, turned his back on his father's UK newspaper business. James Murdoch has been under the spotlight since phone allegations swamped News International, the British publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

It has now emerged that Ofcom boss Ed Richards met other senior figures at the regulator in January this year to effectively step up the watchdog's investigation of BSkyB by officially assigning it the status of "project". The probe is known internally as "Project Apple".

"Ofcom has a duty under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 to be satisfied that any person holding a broadcasting licence is, and remains, fit and proper to do so," a spokeswoman at the comms regulator told The Register.

"In relation to the hacking and corruption allegations, new evidence is still emerging from the various enquiries. Ofcom is continuing to assess the evidence – including the new and emerging evidence – that may assist it in discharging these duties."

She added: "Ofcom has written to, met and is in dialogue with the various authorities investigating the allegations. This includes the police, the relevant Parliamentary committees and MPs."

As we reported in July 2011, Ofcom had initially held off from probing BSkyB in light of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of News International's 168-year-old Sunday tabloid News of the World.

Various senior execs including then NI boss and erstwhile editor of the redtop Rebekah Brooks were forced out of the company. But James Murdoch remained as chairman.

His decision to move to New York in recent months to concentrate on News Corp's TV biz has led to some observers suggesting that the younger Murdoch was pushed out of NI in a move to limit damage to his tarnished credibility. Others have simply called for James Murdoch to altogether quit his dad's firm.

The Murdochs, at the very height of the phone-hacking saga, were audaciously hoping to buy the remaining part of BSkyB that News Corp didn't already own. That planned merger was ditched on 13 July last year, following immense political pressure in the House of Commons with MPs demanding News Corp to withdraw its bid.

As we noted at the time, however, News Corp signalled that it could, at a later date, attempt to buy out the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB where US-based James Murdoch remains as chairman and non-exec director.

"News Corp reserves the right to announce an offer or possible offer or make or participate in an offer or possible offer for BSkyB and/or take any other action which would otherwise be restricted under Rule 2.8 of the City Code within the next six months," it said in July 2011. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.