Check Out Our New Look

Murdoch BSkyB Probe Thrown Into Chaos

Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary – and a man known to be sympathetic to the Murdoch media empire – will now decide whether News Corp’s £7.8 billion ($12.5 billion) takeover of BSkyB gets referred to the Competition Commission. Business secretary Vince Cable disqualified himself from the role this afternoon after telling 2 undercover newspaper reporters that he had “declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win”. Prime minister David Cameron called Cable’s views on Rupert Murdoch “completely unacceptable”. The BBC has been leaked the full transcript of Cable’s secret taped conversation with the Daily Telegraph reporters. Ofcom is investigating the bid on the grounds of protecting a diversity of voices. It’s not meant to be political. Cable went on: “His whole empire is now under attack… So there are things like that we do in government, that we can’t do… all we can do in opposition is protest.” Robert Peston, the Beeb’s business editor, has been leaked the transcript by a whistleblower unhappy that the Daily Telegraph omitted this part of Cable’s interview in today’s front page splash. News Corp says: “News Corporation is shocked and dismayed by reports of Mr Cable’s comments. They raise serious questions about fairness and due process.” Claire Enders of Enders Analysis, the media analyst who wrote to Cable outlining how the deal would harm media diversity, tells me: “This was a huge mistake on his part. It … Read More »

Comments (2)

James Murdoch Bares Teeth Over Sky Bid

James Murdoch has warned the UK government that News Corp could move overseas if the regulator blocks its £7.8 billion ($12.5 billion) bid for BSkyB. News Corp’s European and Asian boss made the veiled threat talking to investment bank analysts in Barcelona. The government must decide whether it wants to risk “jeopardising an £8 billion investment in the UK” with a prolonged investigation, Murdoch said, noting that News Corp could relocate some of its most innovative projects to more “welcoming” countries if the UK blocks its bid for BSkyB. “From India to Italy and to Germany, countries are becoming more welcoming of investment and more welcoming of what we can bring,” Murdoch said. Read More »

Comments (10)

Rupert Murdoch Blasts Anti-News Corp Alliance Opposed To BSkyB Bid

Rupert Murdoch took a swipe at rival media groups striving to block News Corp’s takeover of BSkyB and accused them of petty thinking. In what was billed as his first major speech in the UK since 1989, Murdoch tonight was the inaugural speaker of the Margaret Thatcher Lecture series at the UK’s conservative Center For Policy Studies in London. He said: “When the upstart is too successful, somehow the old interests surface, and restrictions on growth are proposed or imposed. That’s an issue for my company … These are small thinkers who believe their job is to cut the cake up rather than make it bigger.” Murdoch was referring to bosses of some of Britain’s biggest media groups — including the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and Channel 4 – who have written a joint letter to British business secretary Vince Cable calling for him to intervene. The government minister has the power to refer News Corp’s proposal to UK media regulator Ofcom (equivalent of America’s FCC), potentially derailing the £8 billion takeover. BSkyB is likely to notify Brussels officially of News Corp’s takeover intentions by the end of October. That starts the clock for the business secretary, who has to make a decision on whether to intervene within 2 weeks after that. 

In what at times was a self-effacing speech – at one point he referred to himself as a “parvenu” – Murdoch paid tribute to the former British prime minister and her legacy. Murdoch also … Read More »

Comments (6)

UK Broadcasters Could Be Forced To Carry Local News Bulletins

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt raised the possibility of Sky also being told to run local news, at least in the short term. Otherwise it could risk being demoted on where it sits on electronic TV listings. Hunt thinks that Sky and other broadcasters will end up paying local TV news suppliers because local news will prove popular. He’s asked UK communications regulator Ofcom to look into local TV news provision. Hunt, speaking at this morning’s Royal Television Society International Conference in London, raised the possibility of public broadcasters who invest in local news ranking higher on the Electronic Programme Guide. But Hunt ducked the question as to whether broadcasters who ignore local news will find themselves in turn demoted. The coalition culture secretary said that being on the first page of the EPG is worth £30 million ($48 million) a year in terms of revenue to a broadcaster. “I think that ITV and Channel 4 will both want to play their part,” Hunt told the RTS. “They get considerable benefit from their public service broadcaster status.” With analogue TV soon to be switched off here, where you sit on the EPG – ranked alongside 100s of other channels – is becoming increasingly important. As more and more households switch to digital television, a prominent position becomes increasingly important for the main channels to attract viewers from their smaller rivals.

Comments (1)

Sky Faces Splitting Up Movie Business

By | Wednesday August 4, 2010 @ 3:58am PDT

UPDATE: The pay-TV giant could be forced to separate its consumer movie channels and the way it sells those channels to rivals. Ofcom, the communications regulator, has referred Sky’s dominance of the movie pay-TV business to Brussels. The Competition Commission will spend up to 2 years investigating Sky. Separating its consumer movie channels from its wholesale business would be worst case scenario though. What’s at stake are fears that Sky could dominate the coming subscription video-demand movie business the same way it has dominated movie channels for the past decade. Ofcom is concerned that the way Sky sells and distributes movies distorts the market in its favour. “The end result for consumers is less choice, less innovation and higher prices,” says Ofcom.

Virgin Media says: “We’ve long argued that current arrangements for the supply and acquisition of premium movies do not serve consumers well. We’re pleased that these issues are now going to be the subject of further detailed examination by the Competition Commission.”

But Sky slammed Ofcom for yet again seeking to intervene in a sector in which customers are well served. “Further prolonging this unnecessary investigation will only create uncertainty and serve to undermine incentives to invest and innovate, which is bad news for consumers,” BSkyB tells me.

Jonathan Davis, strategy adviser to a number of European public bodies, reminds me that Brussels told incumbent telco BT to separate … Read More »

Comments (0)