the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

3 March 2011

BECTU has expressed its bitter disappointment at the announcement today (3 March) that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has accepted a proposal from News Corp which would see Sky News spun off into a separate company to allow a full-scale takeover of BSkyB to proceed.

Commenting on the announcement, BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey said:

"This news is bad news. We have no confidence that this decision will provide the safeguards we all need to preserve the UK's diverse media.

"The fact that Jeremy Hunt has allowed Murdoch to by-pass the Competition Commission, when he said he would follow Ofcom's recommendation, speaks volumes about the motivation behind this decision. This is a political decision and one in which Jeremy Hunt had ducked his responsibility to protect the UK media from political interference.

"This decision paves the way for Rupert Murdoch to extend his already considerable media interests in the UK. What do we see ahead? Less choice, fewer voices and more undue influence for the Murdoch empire."

BECTU has been working with other campaigners to challenge the government's handling of the proposed takeover. Assistant general secretary, Luke Crawley, spoke at a packed  public meeting in Parliament on 12 January which was attended by many BECTU members.

The union has long argued that a News Corp takeover of BSkyB would be against the public interest.

A demonstration will take place outside the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's HQ, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH at 17.30 today, Thursday 3 March.