Ofcom steps up probe into BSkyB

Ofcom is stepping up its probe into BSkyB to determine whether it is a “fit and proper owner” of a broadcasting licence.


The media regulator has deepened its investigation into whether News Corp is an appropriate majority shareholder of the broadcaster by asking subsidiary News Group Newspapers to supply documents on the lawsuits brought against it related to phone hacking.

Previously Ofcom, which has been gathering evidence since last summer, had only focused on publicly available information from newspaper reports and the Leveson inquiry.

Ofcom could force News Corp to significantly reduce its 39% shareholding in BSkyB, or revoke its broadcasting licence. James Murdoch, who resigned as executive chairman of BSkyB earlier this month, could also be coerced from his non-executive director position on its board.

News Corp had tried to take full control of BSkyB last year but the bid was abandoned as news emerged about the phone hacking tactics journalists had used at its now defunct newspaper the News of the World.

At the Leveson inquiry yesterday (27 April) New Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch apologised for failing to deal with the hacking scandal when it first emerged and added that he was sorry he did not close the News of the World a year earlier.

He said executives at the paper had “covered up” the wrongdoing at the Sunday tabloid and that information was hidden from him.

BSkyB and News Corp have not issued comments on Ofcom’s deepened investigation.

The news comes in the same week Ofcom opened an investigation into Sky News after its chief John Ryley admitted to the Leveson inquiry that journalists had hacked into the e-mail accounts of John Darwin, the British canoeist who faked his death.

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