The revelations of the last few hours of the business secretary’s outburst to complete strangers, who turned out to be undercover reporters for the Daily Telegraph at his surgery, has handed Murdoch a massive tactical advantage in his bid to take over BSkyB. In order to keep his job, Cable’s department has been stripped of any decision making in the field of media, digital and telecommunications matters. These now go to Tory MP Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary at the DCMS. Murdoch must be delighted and the Lib Dems, rather pissed off.
Of course the role of Ofcom remains the same, it has to give its report on the proposed takeover by 31 December, but to Hunt not to Cable and if the regulator does recommend reference of the bid, on media plurality grounds to the Competition Commission, Hunt will be in a difficult position. So it’s important that campaigners against the takeover don’t react badly to this set back. The issues are still the same, the task, however, has been made more difficult by Cable’s juvenile behaviour. And today the EU Commission announced that they had given the proposed merger the green light on competition grounds, which will please the media baron and, he will argue, strengthen his case in the UK.
Cable is an experienced politician, and should have remembered that you should never say anything in private, especially in front of people you don’t know, that you would not be prepared to say in public. This ‘WikiLeaks moment’ may mark the beginning of the end for ‘Saint Vincent’. Many on the Tory benches would probably like to see him go and be replaced by disgraced MP David (expenses) Laws, but it’s too early for that.
And why did the Daily Telegraph say that their report was’ the full transcript’ of the interview, when they knew it was not? The Telegraph along with much of the non-Murdoch press, had signed a letter against the proposed takeover and presumably hoped that by not revealing Cable’s loose talk, he would continue in post and be able refer the bid to the Competition Commission, after he received the Ofcom report. A classic example of censorship by omission, influenced by commercial interests.
All the more reason to turn up to the Parliamentary public meeting on Murdoch and the BSkyB merger, Wednesday 12 January 6.30pm-8.00pm, Committee Room 10, House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1 and make your views known.
Further sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/