Tom Watson has demanded ministers intervene as Rupert Murdoch’s empire moved closer to acquiring the remainder of Sky in a takeover deal.
Watson, the shadow culture secretary, spoke out after 21st Century Fox appeared to be on the brink of an agreement for the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own.
“[Karen Bradley], the secretary of state, must refer the bid to Ofcom, to assess whether it would result in too much media power being concentrated in too few hands, and whether Rupert and James Murdoch are ‘fit and proper persons’ to run a broadcaster,” Watson said today.
The original deal for News Corporation to buy Sky was abandoned in 2011 at the height of the phone hacking scandal. Yesterday Watson’s ally Gordon Brown said that the takeover should be postponed until after the second part of the Leveson inquiry is completed.
There is concern that were Sky to be taken over by the Murdochs that this would leave them in charge of substantial parts of UK media. They already own The Times and Sunday Times, The Sun and various international news services such as Fox news.
“Labour’s position has been consistent throughout; the government cannot be allowed to ditch the vital second part of the Leveson Inquiry, which would look at questions around unlawful or improper conduct within the Murdoch empire, at exactly the moment when Rupert Murdoch is attempting once again to strengthen his hold over the UK media”
“Fox is attempting to finalise this deal as the Christmas break approaches – but there is still time for the Government to intervene. They must express their view to Parliament before Christmas.”
“When she stood on the steps of Downing Street this summer, the Prime Minister said to the people of this country that ‘When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you’. This is a big call. The Government needs to decide whose side it’s on.”