A group of leading print and broadcast media businesses have written jointly to the Government asking it to intervene in Rupert Murdoch’s attempts to take full control of BSkyB.
The letter to business secretary Vince Cable claims that a merger of the country’s biggest newspaper group – the Murdoch-owned News International – and Sky – the country’s biggest pay TV broadcaster – could have negative consequences for diversity in the media.
The letter was signed by the chief executives of Telegraph Media Group, Associated Newspapers and the Guardian Media Group, regional newspaper publishers Northcliffe Media and Trinity Mirror, along with those of BT and Channel 4 and BBC director general Mark Thompson.
The Financial Times – which had previously stated its own opposition to the takeover – called the group ‘an unprecedented alliance of newspapers, broadcasters and platform owners”.
News Corporation wants to buy the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not currently own but had an offer of £7 per share rejected by shareholders in June. However, it’s likely that Murdoch’s international media company will return with a higher offer.
According to the Guardian, the letter’s signatories suggest that a Murdoch multimedia empire could have an annual turnover of around £7.5bn compared with the BBC’s £4.8bn and could benefit from greater sharing of content and journalists.
The various companies want Cable to review any potential deal. City law firm Slaughter & May sets out the legal arguments for the minister to intervene in a note included with the letter.