After a lengthy investigation, Ofcom announced this morning that BSkyB is a “fit and proper owner” of a broadcast licence. That will come as a relief to the Murdochs, who own a lucrative 39.9% stake in the company and whose handling of the phone-hacking scandal triggered the review.
However, it’s worth noting that the report is sharply critical of James Murdoch, who, in its words, “repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as chief executive officer and chairman”. It added that “his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions” was both “difficult to comprehend and ill-judged”. The unspoken implication is that had Murdoch not already resigned as chairman of BSkyB, Ofcom would have ruled that it was not “fit and proper”.
Of Rupert Murdoch it said: “We do not consider that the evidence currently available to Ofcom provides a reasonable basis on which to conclude that Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment or corruption by employees of NGN or News International.”