Labour has proposed an emergency change of law that would block any attempt by News Corporation to renew its bid for ownership of BSkyB. Labour has expressed worry at the possibility of Rupert Murdoch reviving his desire for full ownership of the company.
Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis has asserted that ministers should be allowed to block any such attempt. His suggestion is to introduce a public interest test, applied by ministers and regulators to assess conduct and rule people out based on the result. This amendment to Section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002 would also empower ministers to intervene throughout the process should new information become available.
Lewis was quoted in the Guardian expressing his belief that the measures are "necessary to ensure that while we wait for the outcome of the Leveson inquiry, no changes in media ownership can occur which are not in the public interest." He added that while "there is a strong case for removing politicians from media ownership and merger decisions," action must be taken to "address the legal ambiguities" and loopholes that might still allow Murdoch to take part in a bid for BSkyB.
When parliament returns on 5 September, Lewis will introduce a negative motion in the hope it will be approved by all parties and therefore be passed without a vote.
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