Tory MP calls for block on MacKenzie's radio bid

CHRIS SMITH, the culture secretary, will next week come under pressure to block the proposed takeover of commercial broadcaster Talk Radio by the former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie on the grounds that it would strengthen Rupert Murdoch's hold on the British media.

The senior Conservative backbench MP Nicholas Winterton has written to Mr Smith arguing that the bid, which is being backed by Mr Murdoch's UK holding company, News International, is "contrary to the national interest".

He has been joined by Baroness Wharton, a cross-bench peer, who has written to Mr Smith telling him that it would be "quite wrong" to allow Mr Murdoch, who already controls four national newspapers and holds a large share in British Sky Broadcasting, to extend his domination into the radio sector.

Mr Winterton, who is Chairman of the Commons All-Party Media Group, also questions the suitability of Mr MacKenzie to run the radio station.

"The prospect of a 'dumbing down' of Talk Radio's output with the radio equivalent of topless darts, news bunnies, and bouncing dwarves fills me with despair," he writes, referring to the features Mr MacKenzie introduced while he was chief executive of L!VE TV, the cable television station owned by Mirror Group.

Mr Winterton intends to raise the issue with Mr Smith and Margarett Beckett, the President of the Board of Trade, in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

He has tabled questions which ask whether the Department of Trade and Industry has any plans to prevent the further expansion into British broadcasting by News International, and whether the competition authorities could intervene in the bid.

Mr Winterton also intends to ask Mr Smith what steps he is taking to promote "plurality and diversity of ownership within the UK media industries".

Earlier this week Mr MacKenzie resigned as the deputy chief executive of Mirror Group to lead a bid for Talk. He is being supported by News International, which under current media ownership rules is allowed to take a 20 per cent stake in the broadcaster. He has also secured the backing of Media Ventures International, the investment group which has a 35 per cent stake in the station.

Mr Murdoch is believed to have wanted to lure Mr MacKenzie from The Mirror, where he had begun to stabilise the troubled tabloid's circulation and threaten the pre-eminent position of the Sun.

However Talk's managing director, Paul Robinson, is leading a management team planning to mount a rival bid for the station, which has been put up for sale by its majority shareholder, the Luxembourg-based media group CLT-UFA. He is expected to name his financial backers next week. Earlier this week, he questioned Mr MacKenzie's ability to run a radio station.

Talk Radio has been in dire financial difficulties ever since its launch. The station soon abandoned a downmarket "shock jock" approach in favour of a more sophisticated format in an attempt to win more listeners. However, it remains hamstrung by the pounds 3.5m annual cash bid it submitted to win the licence. The station is believed to have lost close to pounds 10m last year.

Nevertheless, experts believe Talk will fetch a price of up to pounds 15m, partly because its licence can be renegotiated in two years' time, but also because it has a guaranteed berth on the national digital radio multiplex, applications for which are due in later this month.

This worries Mr Winterton, who argues that a successful bid by Mr MacKenzie would "fly in the face of Government policy objectives by giving Murdoch companies not only control of one of only three such independent national radio stations, but also guaranteed access to digital capacity and potential control of a digital radio multiplex".

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn