Murdoch probe intensifies

OFCOM has stepped up its probe into the propriety of James Murdoch’s position as BSkyB chairman by creating a dedicated team to monitor evidence emerging from police investigations, parliamentary committees and the Leveson inquiry.

The question of whether James Murdoch and News Corp are “fit and proper” persons to own a broadcast licence was discussed at two Ofcom board meetings last year, but according to minutes disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request, in January the media regulator put a team of about five – dubbed Project Apple – specifically on the case.

If Murdoch is not deemed “fit and proper” to own a broadcast licence he could be forced to retire his position as chairman of BSkyB. If News Corp is judged similarly it could be required to sell some of its 39.1 per cent stake in BSkyB so it is not considered a controlling force in the British broadcaster.