Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp.
Chairman and CEO of News Corp Rupert Murdoch speaks during a news conference Reuters

The media empire of Rupert Murdoch has found itself a new foe in the form of the Church of England. Rather than say "render unto God what is God's and to Murdoch what is Murdoch's", the CoE has expressed its opposition to the takeover of BSkyB by News Corporation, as such a move could undermine impartiality at Sky news.

News Corp is currently attempting to buy up the remaining shares of BSkyB, despite strong concerns from other media organisations that this could give News Corp too much power. News Corp already owns the Sun and the Times newspapers, as well as their sister papers the News of the World and the Sunday Times.

The CoE has provided its own submission to Ofcom, which is currently holding a consultation on the proposed takeover.

The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and spokesman for the CoE on media matters, said that the vitality and plurality of the media is "essential" for a "well informed democracy".

The Bishop added, "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.

Bishop McCulloch said that while Sky News has a "well deserved reputation for innovation and the quality of its journalism" it could be at risk from the "exercise of subtle editorial influence" should it be taken over completely by News Corp.

He added, "In the case, therefore, that the bid is allowed, the public have a right to expect, at the very minimum, an assurance that the independence and editorial integrity of Sky News will be preserved. Even if the News Corporation bid is not allowed, it would be a positive commitment to media plurality if BSkyB were to take the opportunity to reassert its existing commitment to the editorial independence of Sky News and its continuing contribution to public service purposes."