The National Union of Journalists has called for more people to sign a petition pledging support to the business secretary if he decides to intervene in News Corporation's rumoured plans to bid for full ownership of BSkyB.

The online petition from campaign group 38 Degrees, which currently claims to have more than 16,200 signatures, calls on business secretary Vince Cable to block the reportedly planned bid by News Corp for the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB that it doesn't already own. It will be passed on to Cable next week.

"Rupert Murdoch's army of lawyers and lobbyists will be all over Vince in the next few days, putting him under pressure to wave the deal through," the NUJ says on its website.

"We have to make sure that Vince doesn't lose his nerve. We need to carry him towards the right decision on a tidal wave of people power.
It is possible to challenge the Murdoch media empire."

"News Corporation's current bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting and Murdoch's plans to continue to extend his powerful media empire are a threat to the promotion of a free, plural and diverse media," general secretary Jeremy Dear added in a statement to

The campaign follows reports this week by the BBC's business editor Robert Peston that Cable is likely to call on Ofcom to advise on the takeover if a bid is officially made.

"I have learned that the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, is likely to issue what's known as an intervention notice, under the 2002 Enterprise Act, asking Ofcom to advise him whether the takeover would restrict 'plurality' or the diversity and number of voices in the media industry - and whether there should therefore be a lengthier and more detailed probe by the Competition Commission," he says in the report.

"The decision hasn't yet been formally taken by Mr Cable, because News Corporation hasn't yet made a formal notification of its desire to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB which it doesn't already control."

Earlier this week we reported that media researcher Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, had written to Cable earlier this year warning that such a purchase could damage media plurality and would require government intervention.

In conclusion of her 20-page document Enders said the proposed purchase would risk "a reduction in media plurality to an unacceptably low level" and could impact on the diversity of news.

"Today, the presence of strong independent directors of the company, many of whom have substantial external reputations, helps protect the independence and diversity of what appears on screen, particularly on news programmes."

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