Responsibility for deciding on Rupert Murdoch’s bid to takeover sky has now been handed to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The decision was made following prejudicial comments made by the Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this week. Mr Cable was secretly recorded stating he had ‘declared war’ on Murdoch’s organisation.
Labour has accused Mr Hunt of being even less impartial on the matter, claiming he is biased in favour of Murdoch. Although Shadow Business Secretary John Denham wrote a letter questioning the integrity of Mr Hunt, Sir Gus O’Donnell approved him for the role on Wednesday night. Sir Gus assured the public that the appointment was made to ensure there was no conflict of interest.
The government has been dogged with rumours of special relationship with Rupert Murdoch and his son James since the Sun changed its alliances to the Conservatives in 2009. When David Cameron became Prime Minister in May Murdoch was amongst the first visitors to Number 10.
Before entering government Jeremy Hunt was known to make positive remarks about News Corporation and BSkyB and had numerous meetings with representative from both organisations.
David Cameron is now facing stern criticism from his own backbenches over this issue, the main point of opposition being that he did not simply remove Cable from the Cabinet when he had the opportunity.
The real decision making power still lies with the media regulator Ofcom, drafted in by the Business Secretary to oversee the matter as he believed that if Murdoch bought the 61 per cent of the company he does not already control it would be damaging to the British media.
Competing media organisations in the UK, the BBC, The Guardian Media Group, the Daily and Daily Telegraph, have each lobbied government on the matter and its potentially negative implications.