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Ofcom ‘won’t be rushed’ on BSkyB

Rupert MurdochNews Corp has completed its internal review of practices at the Sun newspaper, Mr Murdoch says

Ofcom will not be “rushed into a knee-jerk reaction” on BSkyB’s broadcasting licence, the BBC understands.

The regulator is considering whether BSkyB is “fit and proper” to hold a licence, given News Corp’s 39% stake.

A committee of MPs on Tuesday said Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run News Corp, accusing him of “wilful blindness” over phone hacking.

In a statement earlier, BSkyB said it remained a “fit and proper” holder of a broadcasting licence.

Announcing its results for the first quarter of 2012, the satellite broadcaster said it was engaging with Ofcom on its assessment.

It pointed to a “positive contribution to UK audiences, employment and the broader economy, as well as its strong record of regulatory compliance and high standards of governance”.

The Liberal Democrats wrote to Ofcom on Tuesday urging it hasten a review of BSkyB’s licence, after the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee released its report into phone hacking at News International. News International is a subsidiary of News Corp and published the now-defunct News of the World (NoW) tabloid.

The BBC has been told Ofcom wants to be “fully appraised” before it reaches any conclusions and that the review will take “as long as it takes”.

But the regulator has previously said it would not wait for the conclusion of any criminal proceedings over hacking before making a judgement.

Committee disagreement

On Monday, the media committee concluded that Mr Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a major international business, although four of the 10 committee members disagreed, with the MPs split on party lines.

Louise MenschLouise Mensch says the ‘not fit’ line was not discussed until Monday but Paul Farrelly disagrees

Conservative member Louise Mensch criticised Labour members for including the “not fit” line and said the report had lost credibility.

“Labour has shot themselves in the foot by taking a report that could have been quite damaging to their target and making it partisan and essentially worthless,” she told BBC Two’s Newsnight.

She said that during all of their discussions about the report, the committee had never discussed “even for a minute” whether or not Mr Murdoch was a fit person to run the company.

But on Wednesday, Labour’s Paul Farrelly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the motion was “tabled well before Easter” and had been discussed by committee members.

He said Ms Mensch and other Conservatives were “wrong” to claim it had only emerged on Monday.

Former Labour MP Tony Wright told the BBC’s Today programme it was worrying that the committee had not reached consensus.

“It’s absolutely crucial that parliamentary select committees do not start splitting on partisan lines – because if they do, that’s the kiss of death for the select committee system, ” he said. “I spent 10 years finding forms of words to keep whole committees together across party lines.”

‘Unjustified and partisan’

The media committee’s report also accused three former News International executives – one-time executive chairman Les Hinton, former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone – of giving misleading evidence to Parliament.

News Corp said some of the comments in the committee’s report were “unjustified and highly partisan”.

In an email to staff at his UK newspapers on Tuesday night, Mr Murdoch said the business could grow “better and stronger” following the phone-hacking scandal.

Mr Murdoch said the committee’s findings were “hard to read” but he was proud News Corp had worked to put things right.

In his email, Mr Murdoch also revealed that the company’s Management and Standards Committee (MSC) had found no evidence of illegal conduct at the Times and Sunday Times, apart from one previously-reported incident, for which an employee had been disciplined.

He also said it had completed its review of the Sun, but made no comment about the conclusions.

The MSC was set up after it was revealed reporters at the now defunct News of the World (NoW) had hacked into the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

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