Parliamentarians Seek to Block Murdoch's Move on ITV

01 February 2007

LONDON: In a scenario exactly akin to that envisaged by Lord David Puttnam in 2003 when he forced through a 'public interest' amendment to the Blair administration's Communications Bill, UK parliamentarians have tabled a cross-party motion invoking the Puttnam amendment in a bid to block Clan Murdoch's recent snatch of a 17.9% stake in ITV, the nation's largest commercial broadcaster.

The motion urges trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling to instruct communications regulator Ofcom to take account of "potential public interest considerations" before referring the swoop (by News Corporation's UK satellite monopoly BSkyB) to the competition commission.

Ofcom has already concluded that Sky's spoiler could have given it "material influence" over ITV and Darling is expected to announce shortly whether or not he will issue an special intervention notice under the Enterprise Act 2002. Such a move would (literally) be unprecedented.

According to John Grogan MP, sponsor of the motion: "There are rumours that Rupert Murdoch was lobbying Gordon Brown at Davos, but I hope that the chancellor has the strength of character to encourage his close ally Alistair Darling to do the right thing."

Which some observers at the so-called 'Mother of Parliaments' feel is uncharacteristically naïve of Grogan who, as an experienced MP, will know that "the right thing" usually cedes precedence to "the expedient thing".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff