A majority of Parliamentarians (although not PM David Cameron or culture secretary Jeremy Hunt) are casting around desperately for someone to stop sleaze-mired News Corporation’s bid for the 61 per cent of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB it doesn’t own.
Hunt says his department can’t do it because it can only look at ‘media plurality,’ media regulator Ofcom, which could block the bid on ‘fit and proper person’ grounds says it can’t act until the police investigation is finished (likely to be somewhere around 2015 at the current rate) and Cameron, while promising an inquiry has been careful to steer clear of the takeover aspect.
Cameron, actually, could scupper the £9bn bid with a few choice words. “I think the board of BSkyB should consider very carefully whether News Corporation, in the light of the News International phone hacking scandal, would be the right owner of all of BSkyB.”
There, job done David. But he won’t.
Cameron may be the dog that didn’t bark but the board of BSkyB will get the message anyway. News Corp shares fell three per cent on Wall Street yesterday as US investors digested the growing scandal and the likelihood that it might derail the BSkyB bid.
And News Corporation isn’t a private family company. The Murdochs have the biggest holding, but could (just) be defenestrated by other investors if they became convinced that the value of the company was falling because of the doings in a small part of the empire close to Rupert Murdoch’s heart (although not theirs), British newspapers.
But back to the BSkyB board. Boards of directors are required by law to do what is in the best interests of the company’s owners, the shareholders. Is it in BSkyB’s best interests to become wholly-owned by a news organisation responsible for the worst scandal in the history of British journalism?
It is really as simple as that.