Ofcom steps up pressure on Murdochs over BSkyB
RUPERT Murdoch faces a fresh attack on his UK media assets after it emerged that British communications watchdog Ofcom has stepped up its investigation into News Corporation's holding in BSkyB.
The watchdog has set up a dedicated team to look at whether material flowing from the Leveson inquiry could mean BSkyB is judged not a "fit and proper person" to hold a broadcasting licence. The work is understood to be focusing on James Murdoch's role as BSkyB chairman and News Corp as a 39pc owner of the broadcaster.
If Ofcom finds against BSkyB, News Corp could be forced to sell down some of its holding or James Murdoch could be forced to step down as chairman.
It is understood BSkyB has already been discussed at four Ofcom board meetings, the most recent last month.
According to material obtained under a freedom of information request and seen by The Daily Telegraph
Ofcom launched 'Project Apple' earlier this year to look at details of phone hacking and alleged bribing of public officials that have emerged from the Leveson enquiry and in media reports.
While there is no allegation that BSkyB has been involved with any wrongdoing questions have been asked about News Corp and Mr Murdoch's knowledge of what went on at News International titles such as News of the World.
James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of News International earlier this month, but remains chairman of BSkyB. His position at the broadcaster is already under pressure following his controversial appearance in front of MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
Reports suggest that if the MPs were to challenge his testimony at the hearing when it publishes its findings in a few weeks time Mr Murdoch could lose his job at BSkyB. Equally news of increased pressure from Ofcom is likely to destabilise his position at the broadcaster.
Last year News Corp had to drop its takeover of BSkyB after the phone hacking scandal blew up. News Corp declined to comment.