Cable dismisses rumours of BSkyB intervention

by Peter Wozniak

Vince Cable has apparently quashed rumours that he would intervene to prevent a takeover bid of the broadcaster BSkyB by Rupert Murcdoch’s News Corp.

There had been speculation that the business secretary would use his powers to prevent the takeover after consultation with media watchdog Ofcom as a matter of public interest if it was thought the takeover would damage the plurality of the industry.

However, it emerged last night that Dr Cable has no such plans, and has reportedly had no discussions at any level with Ofcom over the issue.

Mr Murdoch’s News Corp currently owns a large minority stake in BSkyB, and is in negotiations for a full takeover of the company.

Opponents argue that Mr Murdoch’s influence on UK press and broadcasting has already reached such an extent that were the takeover to go ahead, it would make the industry uncompetitive.

The UK broadcasting market is currently dominated by Sky and the BBC, with the two organisations trading blows over business practices and market dominance.

The BBC’s director general Mark Thompson used the prominent MacTaggart lecture this year to respond to criticism levelled at the corporation by Sky’s head in the same arena last year.

News Corp’s takeover negotiations are expected to be completed over the course of the next month, though any announcement may be delayed to avoid impact on the party conferences.