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Any future BSkyB bid to be ruled on independent advice, says Hunt

UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that he would base any decision on a future News Corp bid for BSkyB on “independent advice”, as was the case, he said, with the company’s recent abortive move to acquire the 61% in the company it did not already own in the pay TV company.

Hunt told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that he had been constrained to consider media plurality issues alone when deciding whether News Corp should be allowed to buy BSkyB. However, he said that after the voicemail hacking scandal broke he wrote to media regulator Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading to ascertain whether they now had reasons to doubt that News Corp had a management that could be trusted to meet the undertakings it had committed to – principally spinning off the Sky News channel and guaranteeing its editorial independence – to secure approval for the bid.“I need to be sure that the organizations I take undertakings from are likely to be as good as their word,” he said.

While Hunt said the issue was now “not material”, a decision on any future bid for BSkyB would have to be based on independent advice from the regulator. “I always made my decision when I had received independent advice, and if I was faced with the same situation I would do the same,” he said.