The Church of England has called for a £12 billion News Corp bid to take control of broadcasting giant BSkyB to be blocked.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said if News Corporation were to take full control of BSkyB it would “dominate” both the television and newspaper landscape.
He said the Church of England welcomed a decision by Business Secretary Vince Cable to refer the proposals to Ofcom.
In a submission to the Ofcom consultation on the proposed bid, he said: “It is important to preserve a healthy media environment in which many different and diverse organisations, including public service broadcasters, can flourish.
“Our concerns are not about the nature of News Corporation – indeed, we would make these comments whichever commercial organisation might find itself in a potentially dominant market position.
“A News Corporation in full control of BSkyB would combine one of the three significant suppliers of TV news (BBC, ITN and BSkyB), one of the two suppliers of radio news (BBC, BSkyB) and the group with the biggest market share of national press in the UK.
“It would dominate both the television and newspaper landscape.”
He said Sky News has a “well deserved” reputation for innovation and the quality of its journalism. There was a fear of a “potential” for the exercise of “subtle editorial influence”, he said, should News Corporation take full control of BSkyB.
“Though BSkyB is not a public service broadcaster, Sky News contributes to public service purposes in the broadest sense,” he said. “Even though its market share is small it has, for example, often been an influential voice in political debate.”
He added: “If BSkyB comes under the full control of News Corporation, however, the fear is that even though Sky News would still have to abide by requirements for due impartiality, there would always be the potential for the exercise of subtle editorial influence, not least in the process of selecting which news items are to be covered and which left out.”