My hon. Friend makes an important point. It is written in black and white that they are not allowed to purchase any additional shares in the new company without the consent of the Secretary of State. Were they to be in breach of that, they would threaten the entire deal that, if it goes ahead, will allow them to purchase the remaining shares in the rest of Sky. So the sanctions are very considerable indeed, and we will monitor the deal very carefully to ensure that there is compliance. My hon. Friend will see, when he looks at the undertakings, that they contain a number of explicit provisions to ensure compliance. Those provisions have satisfied the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom, and that is why I have confidence in them as well.
— from debate entitled “BSkyB”
The three speeches/headings immediately before
- 1 earlier: Bob Blackman
Having spent 12 years of my life before being elected to the House working in regulatory compliance, I know that the monitoring arrangements are critical in cases such as these. Will my right hon. Friend tell me who will be responsible for the monitoring of these undertakings and, specifically, who will monitor the share dealings for the new Sky News company to ensure that neither Rupert Murdoch nor his nominees purchase shares in the company in order to acquire a monopoly within the 10-year period?
- 2 earlier: Jeremy Hunt
If the hon. Lady used to work at Ofcom, she will understand that there is a big difference between behavioural remedies and structural remedies. We are talking here about structural remedies. They are not a promise of good behaviour; they are remedies concerning the structure, the articles of association and the board of directors of a new company. They involve obligations that are legally enforceable, and they are therefore much stronger. Ofcom has said that it is happy that the requirements are strong enough to satisfy its concerns. Of course we want this to be a full consultation—it is
very important that we do that—but I am satisfied that the 17 days will give people enough time to look at the deal and voice their objections. We have already had a number of e-mails on the issue, as I am sure the hon. Lady has. We will consider fully all the opinions that are expressed to us before coming to a final decision.
- 3 earlier: Chi Onwurah
I, too, have received a huge volume of correspondence from constituents who are concerned about the plurality of the media following this deal. I should declare an interest: up until the election, I worked for Ofcom. I am therefore very familiar with the real difficulties involved in monitoring and policing behavioural undertakings of this kind. The Secretary of State said that he gave Ofcom the time that it needed to make its recommendation. Will he promise to give the public the time that they need to gain confidence in these undertakings?
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