After ankling many of his European board seats in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s UK press arm, James Murdoch has been elected Chairman of the supervisory board of Sky Deutschland. The exec, and son of Rupert, had originally been appointed as a member of Sky Deutschland’s board last April as News Corp began to raise his profile. The German pay-TV group is 54.8% owned by 21st Century Fox, of which Murdoch is Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Chairman and CEO, International. Via the board chairmanship that begins tomorrow, Murdoch is replacing 21st Century Fox President and COO Chase Carey who had been chairman since July 2010. Carey will remain a member of the board. “Mr. Murdoch has built a track record of bringing innovation to the global television business and choice to customers across Europe and Asia,” Sky Deutschland said today.
News Corp and Sky Deutschland have reached a new financing arrangement that will see Rupert Murdoch’s company increase its holdings in the Germany pay-TV group from 49.9% to 54.5%. Under the deal, News Corp will guarantee Sky Deutschland’s new 300M euro ($400M) credit facility and will support a capital raise of 438M euros ($585M). Sky is issuing 77.9M shares to News Corp to raise 347.4M euros ($463M) and the remainder will be raised via a Sky rights offering to shareholders. In the all-important soccer rights arena, News Corp will also act as guarantor to the German Football League for the new Bundesliga broadcasting license for the 2013/14 to 2016/17 seasons at up to 50% of the annual license fee for each season. Sky Deutschland’s stock was the best performer in the Bloomberg Europe 500 Media Index last year. It closed at 4.60 euros ($6.15) on Friday. German authorities initially gave the go-ahead back in November for News Corp to hold a majority stake in the company. Click over for the full press release:
New Top Programmer At Australia’s Ten
Beverley McGarvey starts tomorrow in perhaps the most challenging job in Australian commercial broadcasting: chief programming officer at Network Ten, the network languishing in third place in the ratings behind Seven and Nine. A six-year Ten veteran, McGarvey had been acting in that role since August 24 following the ousting of the respected and long-serving David Mott. Last week Ten reported a net loss of $A12.9 million ($13.3 million) in the year to August 31 and embarked on another round of cost-cutting, with plans to shed more than 100 jobs in the news and production departments. Before joining Ten as network head of programming in 2006, McGarvey served as director of programming for New Zealand’s TV3. Previously she was head of program scheduling and promotions at Ireland’s TV3. –Don Groves
With an eye toward boosting overall subscription revenue Sky Deutschland is betting that its growing customer base will accept higher rates and fewer discounts. The German pay-TV provider half owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp this month raised premium packages by €1 ($1.31) monthly for the first time in nearly 2 years. CFO Steven Tomsic said he eventually hopes the market will accept further increases in the current €32 ($41.92) average monthly bill of as much as €5 to €10 ($6.55 to $13.10). Unlike European peers such as British Sky Broadcasting Group, also partly owned by News Corp, Sky Deutschland hasn’t raised prices regularly. Tomsic believes subscribers will be attached enough to the service to accept the increases. Bloomberg noted that Sky Deutschland stock is up 133% this year. CEO Brian Sullivan hopes the company will be able to reach its target for operating profit in 2013, which would be its first since News Corp began investing 5 years ago.