Ofcom raises BSkyB test

Ofcom has taken its “Fit and Proper” test into BSkyB up a level by requesting information direct from News International.

Previously the regulator has used information already in the public domain as part of its investigation sparked by the phonehacking scandal within News Corp’s UK newspaper interests.

It wants News International to supply it with documents relating to the civil cases surrounding the phone hacking.

The move suggests that Ofcom is looking beyond the broadcasting interests of News Corp, which holds 39% of BSkyB. Should it fail the test, News Corp may be required to relinquish part of its holding in the platform.

News Corp had wanted to take full control of BSkyB, but was forced to abandon its plans amid public outrage when it was revealed the News of the World had hacked into the mobile telephone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Following evidence put forward by James Murdoch in his appearance before the Levison inquiry into media ethics, culture minister Jeremy Hunt has agreed to hand over a series of texts and emails with his special advisor Adam Smith.

On Wednesday Smith resigned following an admission that his relationship with News Corp was inappropriately close.

Hunt has insisted he was unaware of the extent of the dealings between Smith and News Corp during the BSkyB bid.