One aspect of the Jeremy Hunt story that has been largely overlooked is his past record of support for Rupert Murdoch. In an interview with Broadcast magazine in 2010, while shadow culture secretary, Hunt commented:
Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.
We would be the poorer and wouldn’t be saying that British TV is the envy of the world if it hadn’t been for him being prepared to take that commercial risk. We need to encourage that kind of investment.
It was precisely for this reason that groups such as 38 Degrees (recently profiled by Rafael) argued that Hunt should not be handed quasi-judicial responsibility for the BSkyB deal. His clear preference for Murdoch meant he could never be trusted to act as an impartial adjudicator. Indeed, as Conservative peer Norman Fowler argued on the Today programme this morning, the debacle proves, once again, that ministers should be stripped of responsibility for media takeovers.
Hunt’s words are also, of course, powerful evidence that, as the News Corp emails suggest, he was determined to do all he could to smooth the way for Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB.