BSkyB buyout delayed amid widespread public concern for media

Rupert Murdoch's controversial buyout of BSkyB has been delayed after the Government received some 40,000 responses to a consultation process on planned purchase.

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said yesterday that the process had "taken longer than expected" and the scale of the public response indicates the widespread concern over the possible impact of the deal.

In March, Mr Hunt said that the offer by Mr Murdoch's News Corp organisation to hive off the rolling news channel Sky News had met his concerns that the deal might damage media plurality in the UK. News Corp, which is seeking control of the 61 per cent of BSkyB that it does not already own, has offered to allow Sky News to be run as a separate company under an independent chairman.

News Corp first bid for complete ownership of BSkyB in June 2010. That offer of 675p a share was rejected by BSkyB directors. Mr Murdoch has since upped his bid to 700p a share but some shareholders have suggested he should pay as much as 950p. Further delays will not strengthen News Corp's hand.

Speaking at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport yesterday, Mr Hunt said the number of submissions could have been driven up by organised petitions. "We are looking at them all and taking them very seriously," he added.

He said that the amount of work involved meant that he could not put a timeframe on his final decision on the deal. "I have been clear from the start that we are going to go through this process totally thoroughly and totally impartially and I haven't given Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading an artificial deadline. We have had a very large number of responses to the public consultation and we are going through those responses," he said.

The Culture Secretary revealed that there would be a further consultation if he felt he needed to make adjustments to the undertakings he had made when provisionally clearing the deal in March. "If we conclude that they need to be adjusted then there would be a further consultation period. I would like to conclude it as early as possible but the most important thing is to get it absolutely right. My team, the OFT and Ofcom are making progress as fast as they can but I am not going to give them an artificial deadline."

He acknowledged that the circumstances under which Sky News would operate after a buyout was "at the heart" of much of what was now being looked at. "One of the things I said when I made that announcement was that we would want to flesh out the details of the carriage agreement and the brand licensing agreement under which Sky would carry the output of the new hived off Sky News," he said, adding that such factors "directly impact on the financial sustainability" of the hived-off enterprise. "Those are big and complex agreements and we want to make sure that we get those absolutely right."

A News Corp spokesman said: "We would not comment except to say we continue to co-operate fully with the regulatory process."

Oaten to sue 'News of the World' over alleged hacking

Mark Oaten, the former Liberal Democrat MP whose sex life was was exposed in 2006, is the latest public figure reported to have launched a legal battle against the News of the World over phone hacking allegations.

His decision to sue came a day after Ulrika Jonsson announced she is to sue the tabloid over alleged phone hacking.

Five years ago his rise through his party's ranks was abruptly halted when the News of the World revealed that he had cheated on his wife, Belinda, with a rent boy. He blamed his behaviour on hair loss and a mid-life crisis. Mr Oaten was forced to resign as his party's home affairs spokesman in the wake of the coverage. Publication of the story came shortly after he withdrew from a race for the party leadership.

He stood down from his Winchester constituency, which he had held for more than a decade, before the 2010 general election and his seat fell to the Tories. Since leaving Parliament he has been criticised by animal rights groups for taking a job as chief executive of the International Fur Trade Federation.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
books
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss