Massive public concern over News International takeover

Overwhelming support for a full and independent investigation, into News Corporation’s bid to buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB that it does not already own, is revealed in an ICM poll of 2,006 people published today.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt will receive an initial report from Ofcom on the implications of the planned deal by 31 December. He then has until 15 January to decide whether or not to refer it to the Competition Commission for a full-blown review. Mr Hunt can task the Commission to examine whether the merger would reduce the plurality of the UK media and should therefore be blocked.

The survey – commissioned by BT, Guardian Media Group, Associated Newspapers Limited, Trinity Mirror Plc, Northcliffe Media and Telegraph Media Group – discloses the depth of public concern over the proposed takeover, which was cleared on competition grounds last week by the European Commission:

· 63% said there should be an independent investigation before deciding whether to allow the deal to proceed

· 84% said that a single organisation should not be allowed to control too much of the news media

· 75% said it was important to have competing independent sources of news in the UK

· 44% oppose the deal with a mere 5% being in favour; opposition among Conservative voters was nearly as strong, with 43% opposed and just 5% in favour

· 53% of those who currently identify themselves as Lib Dem oppose the deal with just 4% being in favour.

A spokesman for the alliance of media groups said:

“This deal marks a significant change of control and the public is clearly concerned. If anything, popular awareness of the issues at stake will now be substantially higher.”

“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.”

“Of those who expressed a view, nine times as many people oppose the deal as support it. With 44% opposing and 5% in favour, that is a significant level of concern. Opposition is stacked against the deal among Conservative voters too.”

Response from Department of Health to FOI Request for KPMG Report on NHS Choices and NHS Direct

After a complaint to the Information Commissioner, the Department for Health has chosen to publish a redacted version of the “National Digital Services report by KPMG into NHS Direst and NHS Choices”. You can find the redacted report NHS Choices and NHS Direct on this link (PDF). You’ll see that the opening letter of the report says:

“As requested, we enclose a copy of our second draft confidential report relating to NHS Direct and NHS Choices dated 20 August 2009. In accordance with our engagement letter dated 3 June 2009, you have agreed that our final written report shall take precedence over this draft, and no reliance will be placed by you on any draft report other than at your own risk.

This draft report has been prepared on the basis of fieldwork carried out up to 7 August 2009. We draw your attention to the Important Notice included on page 3 of this draft report.

We are submitting this report to you in draft in order to give you the opportunity to comment on its contents before it is finalised. Our draft report is confidential and is released to you on the basis that it is not to be copied, referred to or disclosed, in whole or in part, without our prior written consent, save as permitted in our contract of engagement”

I’ve put in another FoI request for the first draft report as well as all other letter of understanding etc.

Below is the response from the Department of Health.

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee suspends intellectual property rights inquiry

06 DECEMBER 2010

For Immediate Release:


BT and TalkTalk have been given leave to apply for judicial review of sections of the Digital Economy Act, which is likely to be heard between February and April next year.

This affects timescales for the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Online,announced on 10 November.

The Committee has therefore agreed not to hold any evidence sessions in public until judicial review proceedings are concluded. The Committee has also decided to extend the deadline for written evidence until Wednesday 23 March 2011.

To view the original terms of reference for the inquiry please see: Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Online