Hacking scandal damages News Corp’s bid for BSkyB – but politicians also hit

VOICE OF THE CITY

RUPERT Murdoch’s attempt to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB he doesn’t already own has been badly damaged by the hacking scandal, according to the City A.M./Politics Home Voice of the City panel.

Over 29 per cent said the fresh allegations against the News of the World, resulting in the paper’s closure, have made them “much less favourable” to the proposed takeover. Another 26 per cent said their previous opposition to the deal remains unchanged, while 22 per cent said it made no difference to their support for it.

One hostile panellist commented: “It now seems inconceivable that the takeover of BSkyB will go ahead, and that must be very good news for anyone who believes we should try and maintain reasonable balance in our media.”

There was also cynicism towards politicians, with 31 per cent saying calls for an inquiry were either totally or largely motivated by political opposition to Murdoch. But the majority of the panel (70 per cent) said they would have pulled advertising from the now-defunct newspaper pending completion of the investigation, with only 20 per cent saying they would have continued to support the newspaper commercially.

One respondent wrote: “I would pull all advertising from all News Corp media. The idea that publications are ring-fenced is nonsense and perpetuates problems at News Corp.”

More than half (53 per cent) admitted to being either “very”, “fairly” or “a little” concerned about their phone being hacked. One said: “The recent revelations about the hacking of relatives of 7/7 victims and of Milly Dowler have effected a paradigm shift in this story – it is now about an intrusive press breaching the privacy of private citizens and stopping at nothing to make money. Sick.”

Not all were anti-Murdoch: “This matter is being overdone in the media. People in the real world are concerned about inflation, crime, tax, etc. Another example of media contempt for ordinary people.” Another said: “This is beginning to look like a witch hunt of News Int.”

• City A.M. and PoliticsHome interviewed 439 members of the Voice of the City panel by email last week. Readers can apply to join at cityam.com/panel.