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back to article BSkyB/News Corp merger: Wait for the cops, says Ofcom

The UK's communications watchdog cannot intervene on the proposed merger of BSkyB with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. until a police investigation into phone-tapping allegations at the News of the World has concluded. Ofcom boss Ed Richards told The Register and other reporters this morning that any recommendation to block Murdoch' …

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FAIL

Fantastic.

So they're going to proceed on the assumption that everything's hunky-dory and not even consider delaying the takeover unless and until the rozzers (because they've been SO reliable) decide that something untoward has happened. The bang you just heard was a stable door being determinedly and firmly closed after a finding that the horse had indeed bolted.

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Bronze badge

You are being too kind

The takeover hasn't taken place yet, the horse is still in the stable, ofcom is being told "the horse it about to escape, stop it", and replying "no, that's fine, we'll shut the stable door later"

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Stop

In theory fine

Absolutely we should wait for the out-come of the Police enquiries before blocking the News Corp assimilation of BSkyB.

On the other hand we should wait for the out-come of the Police enquiries before ALLOWING the News Corp assimilation of BSkyB.

This must not get waved through in the meanwhile.

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WTF?

This sentence...

"we then have an ongoing duty in relation to the fit-and-proper test that is not linked to any particular event, merger or transaction. "

I almost choked on my cornflakes reading this. If you don't link a fit-and-proper test to a particular event like this scandal, what on Earth is the point of the fit-and-proper test?

While pay-TV and print media are not directly linked, the owner is the same company, person and ultimately the same bossman in charge. They have to linked together.

Am I missing something here?

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The test is continuous.

I think (I hope) you've misunderstood.

What I think he is saying is that checking the 'fit-and-proper' test is continuous, i.e. it isn't triggered by a particular event, merger or transaction.

I think it's also proper that it shouldn't interfere with any police investigation (ha!ha!) which Ofcom carrying out their investigation might do.

I do agree with another poster that Ofcom should intervene to put the merger on hold until it can make a proper decision on whether to block it (which it should even without the evidence of wrong-doing that's emerge recently).

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what you are missing

nickic, you're missing the fucking obvious. it's been decades since our laws applied to the dirty digger's tax-dodging evil empire.

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FAIL

Ofcom are wrong

In the debate currently on-going in the House of Commons it was just established that Ofcom can intervene in the application for a broadcast license at any time if they have evidence or believe that the organisation or person making the application is not of good standing.

Ofcom just needs to grow a pair and tell Murdoch to get lost,

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That would be the 'fit and proper' test.

I think Ofcom have already answer your question.

My understanding is that because Ofcom believe their investigation might clash with the Police's (yeah I know, the police are demonstrably corrupt but I don't think Ofcom can make that assumption) so they have to hold off until the Police have finished.

Should Ofcom put the merger on hold until then? Absolutely, not even a question of 'should' but 'must'. If they don't then I think that would be an indication that NotW haven't just been bribing the police.

One final thought: given

- the powers they enjoy,

- the public trust invested in them and

- the low chance of prosecution because their fellow officers close ranks,

Shouldn't there be an automatic multiplier, lets say x3, on the minimal penalty imposed in the case of a police officer being convicted of an offence whilst on duty or if taking advantage of his position whether on duty or not (eg using the PNC to find out details of a person he then murdered) as well as automatic loss of pension etc?

I know I'd vote for any part that proposed introducing that kind of police reform.

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Stop

Freeze

The whole thing should be frozen pending results of the investigation.

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FAIL

People get what they deserve

I don't read tabloids, and certainly none of News Corps' bog-rolls. I don't watch Sky, or Sky News.

More fool those who do.

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Stop

Neither do I, but...

by allowing the takeover the authorities would give News Corps a very powerful position in the political life of the country. Just because you and I do not read News Corps offerings does not mean to say that everyone will be immune to the slanted news and opinions given in the papers and on TV etc. Remember " It was the Sun wot won it." or something like that. Politicians seem to be terrified of Murdoch and his minions and I reckon they might just have good reason for their fear.

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[Blah blah I'm not a mong, this doesn't effect me]

This effects you because the Mong Mob will vote for whomever Murdoch tells them to vote for. This makes him the de facto Emperor of the Minor Murdoch Islands (nee Great Britain).

Consider him as Berlusconi, only Murdoch hasn't even bothered stroking his ego by wearing the crown in public.

I'm not even saying that he's a particular malignant Emperor, but he and his creatures are demonstrably above the law. We should just send him the Magna Carta so that he can wipe his arse with it.

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Trollface

What about Public Interest?

So what if there's an ongoing investigation by the Old Bill? This debacle has forced the issue firmly into the public domain and it seems our interests, which obviously pale in comparison to those directly affected, as "Joe Public" ought to carry some weight.

The obvious, yes that's really subjective, outcome of a BSkyB takeover by News Corpse will be the creation of a British version of Faux News and as such it should really be subjected to the highest/deepest/most stringent of all examinations (bend over Murdoch, I'm a fully untrained veterinary proctologist).

There was more I wanted to add but I've burned-out some of my ire now; oh the joys of the cathartic nature of posting at El Reg.

I had to use troll as I know someone will have a go - not that I intend that at all; just venting my spleen.

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Just lifted this from the Peston blog on the BBC

<quote>

On this last issue, and as I've pointed out before, Ofcom is under a legal obligation to ensure that the owners of broadcasters such as BSkyB are fit and proper.

But pending the results of the police enquiry into alleged illegal behaviour by the News of the World, and pending a public disclosure by News International of the way that it has changed its structures and practices to ensure such abuses never happen again, Ofcom is not in a position to adjudicate whether News Corporation is fit and proper.

That poses a dilemma for British Sky Broadcasting's independent directors. They know there is an increased risk of regulatory intervention by Ofcom to frustrate the takeover.

Because of that execution risk, they would have to demand a much steeper price from News Corporation than would otherwise be the case. It is their fiduciary duty to do so - and News Corporation, run by Rupert Murdoch, will be well aware of that.

Which means that even if - as is likely - the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt gives a green light for the bid to be launched in a couple of weeks or so, it would be both potentially expensive and very risky for News Corporation to press the button on the bid then.

My conclusion from all this, which has been corroborated by talking to those close to the two companies, is that Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation will almost certainly have to delay their takeover of BSkyB - at least until it is apparent that the News of the World and News International have been cleaned up.

And, in a worst case for Mr Murdoch and News Corporation, where the reputational damage to his organisation continues to magnify, the delay could become semi-permanent - if, for example, the perceived value of BSkyB rises beyond what News Corp would or could pay.

</quote>

I must admit I find Peston a bit of a headline-grabbing prima donna, but if what he says is true I see a glimmer of hope ;)

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Angel

One of the conditions...

... To getting the green light for the News Intl takeover of BSkyB was the divestiture of the Sky News channel. This is specifically in response to the allegations that Sky News would, post-merger, become another Fox News, and the government was careful to ensure that this should not happen.

So Sky News will remain 'impartial', as impartial as it is today (this being an entirely subjective view of what 'impartial' means).

:-)

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not so much ofcom but the gov.

Mr Cameron should just listen to his electorate and stand up to NI/Murdoch, demand a root & branch clear out of NOTW.

Clearly they have a bad, nasty culture growing in the AC vents, infecting all.

Mr Cameron would be surprised how his rating would increase if he just actually DID something about this cancer.

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Anonymous Coward

It is not up to Mr Cameron

The responsibility falls to Jeremy Hunt MP as Culture Secretary. Considering that 100,000+ objections have already been received by the department over Milly Dowler et al, his responsibility is very clear.

:-)

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Mushroom

Waiting might be funnier

Actually waiting until the takeover goes through and then saying that the News International and the Murdoch's are not fit and proper people to own UK TV channels and that they have to sell all the Sky channels and every other channel they operate would be much amusing.

Ofcom will never actually do it though (SHAME).

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Quick Question

My understanding is that News International have basically admitted the hackings took place and have handed over emails, invoices etc corroborating the facts (not suggesting they would have done this without the Guardian investigation. Just that they HAVE done this). So the police investigation is not to determine whether anything untoward has happened. All parties have already admitted this. The investigation is purely about how much was going on and who knew about it and when did they find out.

All of which is irrelavant to the question of actual guilt. So why the delaying tactics? Same, incidentally, goes for Tesco who say they want to see the results of the police investigation before taking any decisions. Why? Who knew what when is irrelevant to the decision they have been askeed to make.

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Alert

What about...

..all the people not complaining about NotW hacking their voice-mail because the hacks have got leverage due to some particularly embarrassing/career ruinous info obtained.

Speaking hypothetically of course, but if they (The NotW) are prepared to turn a blind eye to illegal investigative methods why assume that they would refrain from resorting to blackmail to cover their arses.

Isn't the plod originally in charge of the investigation now a columnist for News Corp (or am I mistaken)

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WTF?

Incredible, the Ofcom boss is using blatant procrastination as a reason for doing nothing?!

The Ofcom boss is showing he is using full on Passive–aggressive behaviour because ultimately he has no intention of blocking Murdoch in any way what so ever. Not even an investigation.

Ofcom boss: "then we’ll look at it, if we need to,”

Yes right, you'll look at it if you need to. Why not look at it now and then decided if you need to block it? But no, lets sit around doing nothing, whilst the merger goes through. :(

A good description of a Passive–aggressive behaviour is "procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible." ... which is exactly what the Ofcom boss is doing. His blatant procrastination shows he has no intention of looking into or doing anything about Murdoch's plans.

So Ofcom are just procrastinating whilst waiting for the merger to go through, then later they can say, well its too late now to stop the merger, as its already happened. The Ofcom boss shows he has already decided its going through (he is just a two faced Passive–aggressive who won't truly admit that is what he is really doing), because he shows he has no intention of doing anything about it. Not even looking into it.

As Ofcom have no intention of even looking into it, then Ofcom has proved its totally useless, because its suppose to look into these kind of deals, so Ofcom needs to be shut down and replaced and the boss needs to be fired now. Ofcom show they have become too corrupt and complacent. They are not doing their job and they show they have no intention of doing their job.

I find the blatant display of procrastination astounding. :(

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WTF?

Well well, the corruption does on and up

Sitting very uncomforably on Mr Camerons tandum's crossbar are we Mr Richards?

Hoping he or Rebekah Wade will rub your bottom better are we ? forgetting you need to be a Met policeman have your crack cushioned with a big fat wad, but your only a ... are we?

Seriously How can the regulator stand back and do nothing ?

well Mr Ed Richards ? Are you "a fit and proper person" to be heading Ofcom ?

It pretty apparent that Murdoc's bought Camamoron and Jeremy Hunt the one really doing the peddling, who's obvious insurance policy (incase of failed re-election) is a job @ a NewsInternational-holding company, somewhere.

THIS WHOLE THING STINKS and SHOULD BE BLOCKED until the outcome of the investigations/court hearings and the public enquires have been concluded.

But we all know Ofcom doesnt have any teeth - all the better to give vested interests quallity BJ's.

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Mushroom

OFUseless

This shouldn’t be a surprise.

When was the last time you heard of any of the OF organisations doing absolutely ANYTHING useful or sensible?

They’re toothless, pointless wastes of space who simply wave big business through at the expense of the consumer every single time.

What’s that? Want to create a monopoly? Yeah why not. Put water prices up again? 20% increase? Sure! Cartel activities? I didn’t hear anything honest *wink wink nudge nudge*

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Reply to the consultation, Luke.

Lots of justifiable outrage being expressed. Don't waste it - reply to the consultation on News Corp's takeover of BSkyB. Here's the link:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/consultations/8249.aspx

Closing date is 12pm 8 July 2011.

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