News Corporation should not be allowed to buy BSkyB, says Church

The Church of England has expressed its opposition to News Corporation's bid to buy the remaining shares in broadcaster BSkyB.

The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and Church of England spokesman on media issues, warned News Corp would "dominate" the television and newspaper landscape if it gained full control of BSkyB.

The bishop made the comments yesterday in the Church of England's submission to a consultation by media regulator Ofcom on the proposed purchase.

He said: "There is an ongoing need for strong and effective regulation of cross-media ownership and media plurality."

News Corp, which owns the Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World, has put forward a £12bn bid to take control of BSkyB.

The bid was made subject to an Ofcom inquiry by Business Secretary Vince Cable following complaints from some of Britain's other media groups.

Bishop McCulloch said Sky News had a "well-deserved" reputation for the quality of its journalism but expressed concern that its editorial integrity would be compromised if it were to be taken over by News Corp.

He said: "If quirements 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."

If News Corp's bid is allowed, the bishop said the public had the right to expect an assurance that the independence and editorial integrity of Sky News would be preserved.

He added: "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."