Public opposition: News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch's planned takeover of BSkyB is a cause of public concern
An overwhelming majority of the public is opposed to Rupert Murdoch having greater control of Britain’s news media, a survey reveals today.
In an ICM poll, 84 per cent said they were against any single organisation exerting too much influence.
The media tycoon is trying to take over broadcaster BSkyB, with his company News Corporation bidding to buy the 61 per cent of shares it does not already own.
But 63 per cent of the public believes there should be an independent investigation into the purchase, the poll showed. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will receive an initial report from the regulator Ofcom on the implications of the planned deal by Friday.
He then has until January 15 to decide whether or not to refer it to the Competition Commission for a full-scale review.
Mr Hunt could ask the commission to examine whether the takeover would reduce the plurality of the UK media, and should therefore be blocked.
Decision: Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will decide if the deal should undergo an independent review
The survey was commissioned jointly by BT, Guardian Media Group, Associated Newspapers – which owns the Daily Mail – Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media, and Telegraph Media Group.
It discloses the depth of public concern over the proposed takeover, which has already been cleared on competition grounds by the European Commission.
Seventy-five per cent of respondents said it was important to have competing independent sources of news in the UK, and 44 per cent opposed the deal outright, with only 5 per cent saying they were in favour of it.
Among Conservative voters, 43 per cent opposed the deal, with five per cent in favour, while among Liberal Democrats the figures were 53 per cent against and four per cent in favour.
Last night a spokesman for the alliance of media groups said: ‘This deal marks a significant change of control and the public is clearly concerned.
‘A clear majority of the public wants a full and independent investigation into News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB. The Competition Commission provides that mechanism.
‘The public’s concern that no one organisation should control too much of the news – as News Corporation would under the planned deal – is also very striking.’