By Ray Fleming

ON 13 October last year I first wrote in this space about Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy the part of BSkyB that he did not already own and the united opposition to this move from four leading newspapers which are not known for their readiness to find common ground. Yesterday, in the face of opposition which has broadened to take in the whole political spectrum as well as widespread public concern Mr Murdoch announced that he would be withdrawing the BSkyB bid despite his previous insistence that it was vital to the financial prospects of his News Corporation company.

Before the end of last year I had returned to the Murdoch bid on four occasions and throughout the past seven months I have written about it regularly. It has been a rocky ride. What looked a fairly straightforward issue was complicated by Business Secretary VInce Cable's foolish comment to undercover reporters that the coalition had “declared war on Murdoch”. He was removed from responsibility for the issue and replaced by Jeremy Hunt, the Culture and Media minister, who until this week has consulted widely and hinted often that he was “minded” to give Murdoch the go-ahead. But the decision was taken from his hands by the phone-hacking scandal and united public and political opinion. Mr Murdoch's withdrawal may be tactical but it is also immensely significant for the future.


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