MEDIA baron Rupert Murdoch’s threat to axe Sky News if his £11.7 billion bid to take over Sky is blocked is a “bluff,” media campaigners said yesterday.
In a submission to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sky said the watchdog should not assume “the continued provision” of the TV news channel.
The broadcaster said it would be further pressed to act if shareholders reacted badly to a block on the merger.
Murdoch-owned 21st Century Fox already owns 39 per cent of Sky but wants to scoop up the remaining shares. The bid has been referred to the CMA over fears the Murdoch media empire would be too powerful.
But the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF) poured cold water on the threat, with national organiser Josef Davies-Coates saying: “It’s probably a bluff.
“Sky News is integral to Murdoch’s business model and central to his empire-building.”
And National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is typical bully-boy tactics designed to pile pressure on the government to come up with the favourable outcome the Murdochs have lobbied so relentlessly for.”
Further evidence of the media mogul’s dodgy dealings have also come to light through the CMA probe.
In a written submission to the investigation published yesterday, a former News International employee claimed there was a direct link between MI5 and the News of the World editor, which allowed for tip-offs and “political blackmail.”
The employee suggested that the paper’s sudden closure was “used to conceal the scale of political surveillance by the paper and the de jure blackmail operated by the paper,” as well as to hide a link with the security services and the whips’ offices in Parliament.