Thursday, 18 May 2017
Murdoch's Sky bid at risk from US abuse lawsuits
A good example of how regulation is often shaped or at least influenced by agencies beyond the formal regulators.
Since the 2nd Royal Commission on the Press, there has been a legal requirement for the government to approve ANY takeover of a newspaper, though that this was and is a token gesture to see off pressure for tougher regulation is reflected in the fact that not one such sale has ever been rejected. Indeed, recently published archives of then PM Thatcher's secretive meetings with Murdoch as he successfully sought to takeover The Times newspapers in the early 1980s suggests that ideologically friendly governments are prepared to help powerful press barons bend or break the law to have supportive media voices in place.
Rules on TV ownership have been tough from the start. There has been considerable deregulation, especially under Blair's 'New' Labour government, been there remain limits on what any individual company or media magnate can own. Murdoch is bidding is buy up the remaining 61% of BSkyB shares he doesn't own, but must get OfCom's agreement that this will not cause competition issues in the UK market AND that he, his sons and his scandal hit corporation, facing multiple lawsuits for sexual abuse and racial discrimination in the US, constitute a 'fit and proper' owner.
He abandoned his 2011 bid to do the same once the phone hacking scandal hit big over the Milly Fowler case, leading to his closing the NoTW. Will he be forced to back down AGAIN after another big scandal?