Murdoch in UK: All eyes on `fit and proper` test

If BSkyB fails the `fit and proper` test, Ofcom could ask the company to relieve itself of the shares owned.

London: The focus of the Murdoch phone hacking saga has shifted to Britain`s communications regulator Ofcom and the House of Commons after a key parliamentary committee concluded that media baron Rupert Murdoch "was not fit" to own a major international company.

Ofcom is in the process of deciding whether BSkyB - in which Murdoch`s News Corporation owns 39 per cent shares - is a `fit and proper` organisation to hold a broadcasting licence in the light of revelations related to phone-hacking in the other Murdoch-owned company, News International.

If BSkyB fails the `fit and proper` test, Ofcom could ask the company to relieve itself of the shares owned by the company and individuals against whom "relevant misconduct" has come to light.

BSkyB today insisted that it was a `fit and proper` company.

In an email to his 50,000 employees yesterday, Murdoch said the company can emerge "better and stronger" following the phone-hacking scandal, but added that some of the findings of the panel are "hard to read", and "unjustified and highly partisan".

After yesterday`s report of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that key individuals employed by Murdoch had misled the committee, a motion is likely to be put to vote in the House of Commons, and the individuals likely to be called to the bar of the House and reprimanded.

According to Ofcom, "In considering whether any licensee is fit and proper Ofcom will take into account any relevant misconduct of those who manage and control the licensee".

There is one recent precedent of a broadcasting licence being cancelled.
In November 2010, Ofcom determined that Bang Media (London) Ltd and Bang Channels Ltd were not fit and proper persons to hold a licence.


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