News Corp has claimed it had no interest in bundling together its newspaper and TV assets. The BSkyB bid, it was argued, therefore presented no great threat to plurality. But in a private November 2010 memo to the prime minister after receiving an unminuted private briefing from James Murdoch, Jeremy Hunt disclosed the company’s true intentions: “to create the world’s first multi-platform media operator available from paper to web to TV to iPhone to iPad”. Or, to put it another way, Murdoch wanted to bundle together Sky with the Sun and the Times – from Sky football matches to Sun match reports, or rolling TV news integrated with Times journalism – all wrapped together for a single price.
In addition to this proposed bundling, News Corp has consistently used cross-subsidies to keep down the price of the Times. For 12 years the Times fought a price war that enabled it to leapfrog in circulation over the Guardian and Independent – much smaller news organisations that simply could not possibly match its pricing policies. In 1999, the OFT found that NI was guilty of deliberately selling the Times at a loss after cutting its price as low as 10p (its circulation, which started below the Guardian at 350,000, rose at one point to 850,000. The Independent lost nearly 200,000 in sales and has, arguably, never recovered).