News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB has been given a boost by its arch-enemy, the BBC.
The Beeb’s business editor, Robert Peston, published transcripts of business secretary Vince Cable “declaring war” on News Corp owner – and long-term BBC critic – Rupert Murdoch.
Cable is quoted telling undercover Daily Telegraph reporters: “I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win. I have blocked [his bid] using… the legal powers that I have.
“I can’t politicise it but… this is a big, big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. There are things [that you can do] in government… all we can do in opposition is protest.”
The Telegraph published an exclusive on Cable on Tuesday but now stands accused of leaving out his comments on Murdoch – leaked to Peston by a “whistleblower” – because of commercial interests.
The Telegraph was one of several national media outlets that wrote to Cable asking him to block the bid on plurality grounds.
The latest development comes as the European Commission gave unconditional approval to the bid on competition grounds, leaving Cable and Ofcom as the only hurdle between News Corp and the 61 per cent of the broadcaster it does not already own.
Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, will now take over Cable’s responsibility for determining whether the Sky bid is allowed to go ahead.
This article appears in issue 266 of Media Digest.