The Independent in a leader today backs the decision by Business Secretary Vince Cable to refer to media regulator Ofcom the bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take full control of BSKyB.
It says: "The decision by Mr Cable to refer the bid was the right one. Given the widespread suspicion of a pre-election commitment from David Cameron to neuter the UK competition regulators in return for the support of Mr Murdoch's newspapers, a failure to examine the move from a public interest perspective would have been a justified scandal."
The leader adds: "The danger is less of politicised broadcasting output than jeopardy to fair economic competition. News Corporation controls 37 per cent of the UK newspaper market, measured by circulation. The suspicion is that full ownership will enable News Corporation to use BSkyB's abundant revenue streams (the broadcaster has an annual turnover of £5.9bn) to cross-subsidise his newspapers heavily."
And it concludes: "This newspaper's interest in a level playing field for British media organisations is obvious. But a diverse media is firmly in the interests of the British public too. Democracy suffers when any private organisation or individual accumulates excessive economic or political influence. That is all the more true when that power base is in the media, whose function is the flow of information. The UK's media ecology is fragile. At the moment, Mr Murdoch's media empire is an immensely powerful force, but not yet a dominant one. If his latest move is allowed to proceed, the danger is that he will cross that line."
- The Independent's cartoon (above) today suggests a close personal relationship between Murdoch and Cameron.