Call to cut back Murdoch empire
Ed Miliband said current media ownership rules were “outdated”
Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for new media ownership rules to limit the “dangerous” concentration of power in Rupert Murdoch’s hands.
Mr Murdoch had an “unhealthy” market share that led to “abuses of power”, Mr Miliband told the Observer.
It comes as Mr Murdoch’s company, News International, placed a second round of adverts in national newspapers saying how it will address wrongdoing.
Its newspaper, the News of the World, shut amid phone hacking allegations.
With that closure, The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and 39% of digital broadcaster BSkyB remain in the News Corporation stable.
Calling for new ownership rules, Mr Miliband said: “I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News.
“I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”
He told the Observer that current media ownership rules were outdated, describing them as “analogue rules for a digital age” that do not take into account the advent of mass digital and satellite broadcasting.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has disputed reports that a journalist arrested over the phone-hacking scandal had arranged a stay at a luxury health resort for its commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
Sir Paul Stephenson denied he accepted hospitality from a former News of the World journalist
Scotland Yard made the statement in response to newspaper reports that former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis was a PR consultant for Champneys health spa when Sir Paul stayed there earlier this year after an operation.
“The accommodation and meals were arranged and provided by Stephen Purdew, MD of Champneys, who is a personal family friend who has no connection with, or links to, his [Sir Paul's] professional life,” the Met said.
Mr Purdew said he was “outraged” at the suggestions that the stay had anything to do with Mr Wallis.
The advert placed by News International in national newspapers on Sunday describes how the company is “putting right what’s gone wrong”.
It says it has set up an independent management and standards committee to see how the company can prevent similar instances happening again.
It has also asked law firm Olswang to carry out an investigation and a former High Court judge is overseeing the compensation scheme for hacking victims.
News International still owns three national newspapers after the News of the World was closed
So far, celebrities including actress Sienna Miller and football pundit Andy Gray have accepted damages from the compensation fund, believed to be worth £20m.
The advert says: “It may take time for us to rebuild trust and confidence, but we are determined to live up to the expectations of our readers, colleagues and partners.”
The Liberal Democrats have written to media regulator Ofcom calling for it to investigate whether the owners of the BSkyB licence are “fit and proper” following the allegations around News Corp.
Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, media spokesman Don Foster and party president Tim Farron asked the watchdog to investigate in light of “the manifest public concern about News International’s activities, the close integration of News International with its parent company News Corporation, (and) News Corp’s effective control of BSkyB”.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “We received this letter early on Friday evening. We will be considering our response next week.”
She added that the regulator was continuing to gather information and has already written “to a number of relevant authorities and can confirm that follow-up meetings will now be taking place.”