In his first interview since giving Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation the green light to purchase the remaining shares of Sky News, Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision by claiming that legal action can be taken against the company if it begins to destroy competition among Fleet Street.
Notably, Hunt was talking to the Guardian, one of the publications that signed a petition to block Murdoch’s purchase. Naturally, the tone of the article is sceptical at best. Hunt, justifying his decision, told the Guardian‘s Dan Sabbagh: “The first point to make is that the decision I had to take was about concentration of media ownership, not about market power. Many people are concerned about the market power of News Corporation.
“Competition law still stands. If the Office of Fair Trading has good reason to believe News Corporation is too powerful, it can trigger an inquiry without reference to politicians.” Sabbagh appears to doubt the culture secretary’s statement, with a shrewd “we’ll see about that” following Hunt’s statement.
In the interview, he denies taking any political influence into account throughout his decision making process, a criticism levelled at the Conservative MP considering the Sun‘s vociferous support of his party during the general election. But Hunt reveals an admiration for Murdoch and his businesses, saying he has “enormous respect for what Rupert Murdoch has done” mainly for “giving the UK one of the highest degrees of choice in the developed world”.
Moving on from the Sky News furore, Sabbagh presses the MP on the illegal phone-hacking that has been allegedly rife at the Murdoch-owned News of the World, and where Hunt shares a link after working with the paper’s ex-editor, Andy Coulson (who resigned from his position as Conservative communications chief). He admits he is “concerned”, but holds any fire, instead telling the Guardian: “I am sure Sue Akers [who is responsible for the investigation into the allegations] will do an extremely thorough job.”
(Source: The Guardian)