Ben Bradshaw: 'Tories worse than I feared on broadcasting'

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The Government has "relentlessly attacked and undermined the BBC" and condemned ITV's regional news to a "slow death", shadow culture secretary Ben Bradshaw claimed today.

In his speech to the Labour Party conference Mr Bradshaw called on Business Secretary Vince Cable to ask the competition authorities to investigate the attempt by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

NewsCorp's interests include The Sun and The Times, which both supported the Tories at the last election, and the firm is attempting to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own.

Mr Bradshaw told Labour delegates in Manchester the Tories had been "worse than I feared" for public sector broadcasting.

"They have relentlessly attacked and undermined the BBC. They have condemned ITV news in the regions of England and in Wales and Scotland to a slow death.

"They have abandoned our plans to ensure the public can see our major sporting events, including Test cricket on free TV.

"And they have weakened Britain's vital media regulator Ofcom.

"And we all know why the coalition Government is doing this don't we? We know to whose tune they are dancing when it comes to media policy.

"Vince Cable made a lot last week of the dangers of monopoly capitalism and the importance of competition policy.

"If Vince wants to be taken seriously, why hasn't he referred the proposed 100% takeover of Sky by Murdoch's NewsCorp to the competition authorities?

"That takeover, if it goes ahead, will result in a concentration of media power in Britain bigger even than in Berlusconi's Italy.

"So come on Vince, what are you waiting for? Show us your halo, or have you undergone in a few short weeks your own remarkable transformation from saint to stooge?"

Mr Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, accused the Liberal Democrats of being "willing collaborators" in "the biggest assault on our arts, culture and sport this country will have ever seen".

He said in Taunton, Lib Dems were running a campaign to save free swimming and "stop the Tory cuts".

Mr Bradshaw said: "We take no lessons in mature politics from people who are still trying to face both ways even when they are in Government."

In a message aimed at the Labour left, Mr Bradshaw said Labour needed to win back seats in southern England, where the party suffered significant losses in the general election.

"We cannot form a government without winning back those seats. We can do it, but to do so, we'll need not only to be a strong and effective Opposition, but also a credible alternative government.

"That does mean a responsible approach to tackling the deficit and some of the other tough choices that Ed (Miliband) outlined for us yesterday."