Should the 21st Century Fox bid to take over Sky go ahead if Sky News is made independent?
YES – Liz Duff, head of media and investment at Total Media.
This is something of a no-brainer. The Murdochs’ control of the news media in the UK was the main concern from the CMA – and by guaranteeing the independence of Sky News, the plurality barrier is removed.
What’s more, the move to independence may not even be necessary in the long term.
Disney can’t be discounted as a part of the equation – if Disney does take on Fox, and Sky with it, the plurality problem is altered and any immediate concerns are removed.
However, putting the Disney deal aside, one issue that still needs to be addressed is ensuring that the future of Sky News is protected.
The drop in circulation for print titles means that the ways in which people consume news is changing, and broadcast news is one way to plug that information gap.
If the Sky-Fox deal goes ahead, Murdoch’s task isn’t just to keep Sky News independent – it’s to guarantee funds for the service so that it can keep afloat.
NO – Des Freedman, professor of media and communications at Goldsmiths, and former chair of the Media Reform Coalition.
In 2007, when Rupert Murdoch was buying the Wall Street Journal, he promised to introduce an independent editorial board in order placate critics who said he might interfere in the paper’s editorial operations.
The result, according to researchers, was that the paper’s output still became much more critical of the Democrats and more favourable to the Republicans following the transaction.
Exactly the same commitment is being made in order to take full control of Sky. He’s promised a “fully independent, expert Sky News editorial board” composed of two existing directors and an experienced journalist – as if “experience” alone could insulate any journalist from the force of his power.
I choose to believe Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Times, who has claimed that Murdoch’s promises aren’t “worth the paper they’re written on”.
Rupert Murdoch already has too much influence over the political process in this country. Handing him control of Sky in the hope that he’s changed his spots is wishful thinking and bad for democracy.