Hunt's praise for Murdoch comes back to haunt him

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Indy Politics

Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation will have been reassured by the rapid decision to switch responsibility for their proposed takeover of BSkyB from Vince Cable to Jeremy Hunt.

The Culture Secretary has displayed flashes of hostility towards the BBC that chime with the tycoon's belief that the national broadcaster is cosseted at public expense. He has also praised Mr Murdoch as having "probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person".

Mr Hunt startled BBC bosses – whose salaries he has publicly criticised – with his tough approach to negotiations over its budget which ended up with the organisation agreeing to fund the World Service from the licence fee. This month he accused the BBC of institutional bias towards the liberal left, claiming it was out of step with the public on such issues as Europe and immigration.

Mr Hunt, 44, has laboured for several years under the burden of being named as the next Tory leader after David Cameron.

Mr Hunt was appointed a shadow minister shortly after becoming the MP for Surrey South West in 2005, and was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 2007 as the shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. As Culture Secretary he has wielded the axe over arts organisations, but it was only two weeks ago that he burst into the public consciousness after two Radio 4 presenters each made the verbal slip dreaded by broadcasters.

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