Backlash for Jeremy Hunt over BskyB deal

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt faced an angry backlash from Labour and several media groups today after paving the way for Rupert Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB.





Mr Hunt has agreed beefed-up proposals that will see Sky News run as an independent company to allay fears that the deal would give Mr Murdoch's News Corporation too much control of the media.



A consultation has been extended to July 8, after which Mr Hunt will decide whether to wave through the merger once and for all or refer it to the Competition Commission.



Mr Hunt said regulators had confirmed that the safeguards would "remedy, mitigate or prevent the threats to plurality" thought to be posed by the original plans.



And he strongly defended the "transparency" of the process amid a furious onslaught in Parliament when he was forced to appear before MPs to explain his decision.



In terse exchanges, Labour MP Tom Watson, who tabled the urgent question, described it as a "seedy little deal (that) would shame a banana republic".



Mr Watson has been a vocal campaigner over the News of the World phone hacking scandal and criticised Mr Hunt for trusting the word of News Corp, which owns the Sunday newspaper.



Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, a suspected victim of hacking, said Mr Murdoch was not a "fit and proper person" to control BSkyB.



The decision came "shortly after the Prime Minister met Mr Murdoch", he told the upper chamber.



Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis also sought to link the issue to the police phone hacking investigation, suggesting the deal should have been referred to the Commission.



Mr Hunt insisted he took every step to be transparent after the issue was switched to his remit when Business Secretary Vince Cable was caught saying he had "declared war" on the Murdoch empire.



"I am perfectly well aware that on an issue like this, no one is going to trust the motives of politicians," he said.



"And that is why, at every stage, I have sought independent advice from Ofcom, the independent regulator, and from the Office of Fair Trading."



The most recent consultation period, which received 40,000 responses, produced no new evidence that caused Mr Hunt to alter his provisional opinion that the merger should go through.



News Corp, which also owns The Sun and The Times newspapers in the UK, wants to buy the 61% of shares in BSkyB it does not already own.



The revised plans disclosed today would make sure that Sky News has an independent director with senior editorial experience and a monitoring trustee to ensure News Corp complies with the deal.



Sky would also have to continue to "cross-promote" Sky News on its channels.



An alliance of media organisations opposed to the deal, including BT, Guardian Media Group, Telegraph Media Group, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media and Associated Newspapers, said they were disappointed with the decision.



A spokesman said: "A number of questions are raised by the remedies which are supposed to limit the impact of this deal on pluralism. We continue to believe this matter should have gone before the Competition Commission for a full inquiry."



Attention will now shift to how much News Corp will have to pay to win the approval of BSkyB's shareholders.



BSkyB's performance has improved in the year since News Corp made its approach and its share price is currently at nearly 850p, having increased by more than 50%.



Some analysts estimate that it may have to offer at least 950p per share, valuing the company at £16.7 billion - £4.4 billion more than its previous proposal.



The pound has also strengthened against the dollar in the past year, which will add a further £1 billion to the price US-listed News Corp will have to pay.



Mr Murdoch's plans could be delayed further if online campaign group Avaaz successfully applies for a judicial review of the decision.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
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 Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam