And so it came to pass that the move by the Murdoch mafiosi to get their hands on the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own came before the Competition and Markets Authority, who took the measured view, after taking due consideration of representations from a variety of viewpoints, that the best interests of the media consuming public would be best served … by blocking the move on media plurality grounds.
Yes, as the Guardian has reported, “Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn bid to take full control of Sky has been provisionally blocked by the UK competition regulator … The Competition and Markets Authority said 21st Century Fox’s bid to take control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own was not in the public interest due to concerns about media plurality”.
What did this mean? “The CMA’s investigation into the deal found it would give the Murdoch family trust, which controls Fox and News Corp, the publisher of the Sun and the Times, ‘too much control over news providers in the UK across all media platforms and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda’”.
And what this meant for the Murdochs was duly spelt out. “The CMA will consult on its provisional findings and potential remedies before delivering its final report to the government by a deadline of 1 May … It has set out three options for the deal that should be considered in the consultation: that it is blocked; that Sky News is spun off or sold; or that Sky News is insulated from the influence of the Murdoch family trust”.
That means no UK version of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), although it is not all good news: the Guardian report also notes “The investigation cleared the deal on the grounds of Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards - despite the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World and allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News”. Not to mention all those hacking and blagging claimants who are being paid off.
Put simply, the CMA has concluded that allowing the Murdochs to take 100% control of Sky would give them too large a megaphone - hence the possibility that Sky News would have to be spun off or otherwise insulated from their influence. Their taking over Talk Radio might not have been such a good move, as it would only have meant they already had considerable influence over public opinion before adding Sky.
Will the CMA change its mind before May? Doubtful. While the Murdochs and their apologists will be lobbying to get the provisional verdict reversed, those opposed - including Avaaz, 38 Degrees, Hacked Off and Media Matters for America, plus others - will be not just wanting the decision to stand, but also for it to take consideration of all the bad behaviour from all parts of the Murdoch media over recent years.
That will include phone hacking, illegal blagging, other illegal information gathering techniques including bin rifling and surveillance that borders on harassment, sexual harassment and even assault, and the routine thuggery used to enforce the iron law of press Omertà in the UK. It’s time for the Murdoch juggernaut to be stopped in its tracks.
The age of the Murdoch mafia was for a time, but not for all time. Good thing too.