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U.K. Media Regulator Turns up Heat On Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and BSkyB

BSkyB
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

An ongoing investigation into a "fit and proper" test for BSkyB to operate a U.K. broadcasting licence asks for civil litigation papers from the pay TV firm and newspapers.

LONDON -- Media regulator Ofcom is turning up the heat on Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.-run British media interests as it ramps up its ongoing investigations into whether or not pay TV giant British Sky Broadcasting was a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcasting licence.

News Corp. controls about 38 percent of BSkB. The regulator said it sent letters out late last week calling for the parent company of U.K. newspaper publisher News International and the British satellite TV firm to provide documents relating to civil litigation the media empire is currently facing in court related to the phone hacking scandal.

Ofcom is looking into whether BSkyB, whose Sky News network recently admitted to hacking emails, is "fit" to hold a broadcast license due to its links to News Corp.

An Ofcom spokesman told THR that the request came before Rupert and James Murdoch both appeared before the Leveson inquiry into media ethics this week.

Thursday saw Rupert Murdoch admit to an extensive internal cover-up by senior executives within News International, News Corp's publishing division, of wide-scale phone-hacking.

And earlier in the week, James Murdoch's evidence ended with the U.K. culture secretary Jeremy Hunt' special adviser Adam Smith and mounting pressure on Hunt's government position.

“Ofcom is gathering evidence which may assist it in assessing whether BSkyB is and remains fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licences," the regulator said.

“As part of this ongoing assessment, Ofcom has contacted News Group Newspapers [that includes The Sun and shuttered News of The World] requesting documents which it understands are held by the company and which may be relevant to this assessment. BSkyB is party to this correspondence."

The regulalor said it was looking to obtain documents " that were ordered to be disclosed in the civil litigation between numerous complainants and News Group Newspapers.”