UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt To Be Ousted?
UPDATE: David Cameron has named Jeremy Hunt to the post of Health Secretary. Hunt told the BBC, “It’s a huge task. It’s the biggest privilege of my life. I’m incredibly honored.”
PREVIOUS: Jeremy Hunt may be on his way out as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle. Hunt fell under scrutiny a few months ago for what some considered a too-cozy relationship with the office of James Murdoch during News Corp.’s bid to acquire the whole of BSkyB. Hunt, whose official title is Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, expects to lose his post, sources tell The Guardian, although he recently oversaw what was considered a successful London Olympic Games. According to The Guardian, speculation is that he will make a lateral move to the Department for International Development. One name that’s popped up as a possible replacement should Hunt change jobs is Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.
Sky Revamps Acquisitions Team
Sky has promoted controller of acquisitions for Sky Entertainment, Sarah Wright, to controller of acquisitions for Sky, adding acquisitions for Sky Movies to her responsibilities. She replaces Simon Rexworthy, who will join Sky’s Strategy team from October. Wright was involved in the launch of Sky Atlantic and oversaw the acquisitions strategy for the re-launches of Sky Living and Sky Arts.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he won’t launch a probe into whether Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt breached the ministerial code of conduct for Hunt’s part in overseeing News Corp’s ultimately failed bid for BSkyB. Hunt has been in the spotlight for his supposed close ties to News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and son James, which raised eyebrows when he was handed a quasi-judicial role overseeing the $14B bid for the 61% of BSkyB that News Corp didn’t already own. During Hunt’s testimony today before the Leveson Inquiry charged with investigating UK media ethics, it was revealed he texted his congratulations to James Murdoch in December 2010 after News Corp’s bid cleared a regulatory hurdle. “Congratulations on Brussels,” Hunt texted to Murdoch after the European Commission ruled it would not block a deal. “Only Ofcom to go.” Not long after, Hunt was appointed the government overseer of the bid, which was scrapped in July as the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp-owned tabloid News Of The World erupted. Hunt told the inquiry today he would not have sent the text if he had known he was getting the overseer role. After watching Hunt today, Cameron said the Culture Minister acted “properly” throughout the period he was responsible for the bid.
Embattled British politician Jeremy Hunt told reporters today in London that he would hand over private correspondence to the UK inquiry into media ethics. Hunt has come under fire since it was revealed Tuesday that …
The fallout from News Corp’s phone-hacking scandal continued to reverberate today. U.K. Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt said he was backing new legislation that would tighten controls on cross-media ownership. Under the proposal, rolled out at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge, politicians would be barred from approving major media deals and inquiries on media plurality could be launched by regulators Ofcom and the Competition Commission without the trigger of a takeover bid. Hunt said that News Corp’s near takeover of BSkyB in July, abandoned in the scandal’s wake, convinced him changes were needed. “I was very conscious in the recent BSkyB bid that however fairly I ran the process, people were always going to question my motives,” he said.
ANALYSIS: Referring BSkyB Deal To UK Anti-Trust Regulator A Smooth Move By Scandal-Plagued News Corp
In an extraordinary twist, News Corp has done today what it has spent months trying to prevent, and has forced the UK government to refer its £9 billion deal to buy BSkyB outright to anti-trust regulator the Competition Commission. This will delay the deal for months. But crucially, it means that News Corp does not have to drop its bid entirely.
Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, had no choice but to stand up in the House of Commons this afternoon and announce he was referring the BSkyB deal to the anti-trust regulator. Hunt said the move would address the “abuses of power” that have dogged the biggest deal of Rupert Murdoch’s career. Hunt may have presented what he was doing as a victory for tough government, but the truth is that’s exactly what the Murdochs now want: They believe they will be cleared of having too much media ownership if they buy BSkyB outright. Europe’s anti-trust regulator has already cleared the deal on competition grounds. News Corp has withdrawn its offer to spin off Sky News as a separate entity. Previously, FCC-equivalent Ofcom said that spinning off Sky News would be enough to swing the deal in its eyes.
Hunt is desperately rowing back from his previously sympathetic attitude towards the BSkyB deal. He has ambitions to be Prime Minister and has finally realized that the mushroom cloud rising over News International, News Corp’s UK newspaper arm, could affect his political ambitions, I’m told. Hunt has written to other regulators, asking them whether they want to reconsider their original go-ahead for the bid. Ofcom still has the ability to scupper the deal if it decides that News Corp is not a fit and proper owner for BSkyB. Since its original advice, press regulator the Press Complaints Commission said it was lied to by News International, James Murdoch has admitted serious wrongdoing and there are allegations of a cover-up stretching back to 2007.
BSkyB shares were down 7.5% this afternoon at 694p per share — well under the 700p per share that News Corp originally offered for the 61% of the pay-TV behemoth it does not already own.
James Murdoch’s decision to close the News of the World is seen here as the biggest gesture News Corp can make to try and save its takeover of BSkyB. Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary in charge of approving the BSkyB deal, has saved face by announcing that any decision over the deal will be delayed until the fall. Hunt was due to finally approve the deal tomorrow. Owning BSkyB outright would mean News Corp getting its hands on its swelling £5.7 billion ($9 billion) revenues. It would also cement Rupert Murdoch’s position as the most powerful media magnate in Britain.
The decision to close the News of the World tabloid at the center of the deepening phone-hacking scandal has stunned media over here. One insider at News International — Murdoch’s newspaper arm — has told the BBC that “Rupert Murdoch is losing his judgement” in deciding to close the paper rather than fire CEO Rebekah Brooks, who was editing the News of the World at the time of the alleged phone hacking of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler and the families of the London bombing victims. Questions are being asked as to why around 200 journalists on the News of the World should lose their jobs when those at the top of News International such as Brooks or indeed James Murdoch himself are still in place after self-admitted management failure.
Newspaper groups and telco BT have written to members of the UK parliament in hope of derailing Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of pay-TV giant BSkyB. Rival owners of the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and others are urging MPs to lobby Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom they hope might be persuaded to do a U-turn and refer News Corp.’s bid for the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own to the anti-trust regulator.
Today sees huge changes in the British media landscape. Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, has approved Rupert Murdoch’s controversial bid to buy the 61% of pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB he does not already own. Hunt has decided not to refer News Corp’s £7.5 billion bid to UK antitrust regulator the Competition Commission. News Corp has offered to spin off news channel Sky News into a separate company. Rival news organisations have complained that News Corp would control too many news outlets if it owns Sky News and newspapers. Murdoch has offered to keep the loss-making news channel going for another 7-10 years. Sky News loses around £20 million ($33 million) each year. This approval is quite a milestone in seeing Rupert Murdoch becoming even more powerful.
Local TV channels don’t exist here the way they do in the States. If anything, TV has been going in reverse, with the regional ITV Network having bigger and bigger footprints. UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will confirm Tuesday morning that he’s abolishing local cross-media ownership restrictions. Hunt will unfavourably …