Sky News issued an apology after one of its reporters sifted on air through luggage from one of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the jetliner shot down earlier this week over the Ukraine by what U.S. officials said were pro-separatist rebels using sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed, their bodies, luggage and other wreckage scattered across several square miles of countryside. One of the reporters covering the resulting investigation, Colin Brazier, was recorded live picking through some of the belongings in a victim’s small yellow suitcase, showing what appears to be a child’s belongings and talking about the enormity of the tragedy. After a few seconds, Brazier can be heard in the clip saying, “We shouldn’t really even be doing this, I suppose.”
The incident sparked a huge negative response on Twitter and beyond, with protesters calling for Brazier’s removal. Sky News quickly issued an apology through a spokeswoman: “Today whilst presenting from the site of the MH17 air crash, Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims’ bags. Colin immediately recognised that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused.”
NBC News‘ Brit chief Deborah Turness has named the current director of online for ITV in the UK and former Sky News exec, Julian March to be her news operation’s senior VP of editorial and innovation. March will move to New York in early ’14. Reporting to Turness, March will be a key editorial leader at NBC News, overseeing all digital businesses, including NBCNews.com, as well as the news division’s editorial units. NBC News said this will allow for further integration of broadcast TV news and digital operations.
At ITV, March is credited with coming up with the strategy and delivery of the network’s entire online business. Prior to ITV, he spent 11 years at Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, where he launched the Sky News app, and produced over 3,000 hours of live television, including coverage of major breaking news stories such as the 7/7 London bombings and the Indian Ocean tsunami. Read More »
4TH UPDATE: The international media mob holed up in front of London’s St. Mary’s Hospital no longer has to wait for the birth of the Royal Baby. It’s a boy and even the most hardened reporter and photographer and camera operator cheered the news as loudly as groups of UK greeters. ”How rare is it for the global media to have a story this positive to report,” CNN said on air. Right now ABC, NBC, CNN, FNC, Sky, BBC World, CNN International, France 24 but not Al Jazeera are reporting live from the UK and awaiting the baby’s name after the Royal Proclamation was placed on the special Buckingham Palace easel. “Right now there’s just not that much to photograph,” one of the Fox News anchors admitted to viewers. There will be the customary celebratory gun salutes in Green Park and at the Tower of London, providing fodder for global TV coverage. According to TVNewser, the Royal press release went out at 12:31 PM PT with Max Foster reporting on CNN, Amy Kellogg on Fox News and Jim Macedaon on MSNBC. NBC News and ABC News both produced special reports. Brian Williams anchored on NBC, with Natalie Morales at St. Mary’s and Keir Simmons at Buckingham Palace. David Muir anchored on ABC, with Amy Robach at St. Mary’s and Barbara Walters with Dr. Jennifer Ashton contributing from the New York studio. Read More »
Earlier this month, BSkyB’s Sky News channel admitted it had approved email hacking on two occasions. Now, Ofcom is investigating “the fairness and privacy issues raised by Sky News’ statement that it had accessed without prior authorization private email accounts during the course of its news investigations,” a spokesman for the regulator tells Deadline. When the disclosure of hacking was made, Sky News chief John Ryley defended the move saying the email accounts belonged to individuals suspected of criminal activity. “We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” Ryley said. Also today, Ryley appeared before the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics and told the panel it was “highly unlikely” Sky News would ever authorize hacking in the future. News Corp owns 39% of BSkyB, where James Murdoch was chairman until about three weeks ago. Tomorrow, the scion will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry with relation to the phone-hacking scandal at the now defunct News Of The World, which was controlled by News Corp’s News International. Rupert Murdoch will then give evidence on Wednesday and Thursday in proceedings which we’ll be following closely.
BSkyB’s Sky News admitted today that it has approved the hacking of emails on two occasions. Sky News chief John Ryley defended the moves in a statement that said the hacked email accounts belonged to individuals suspected of criminal activity. “We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” Ryley said. News Corp, which is embroiled in a phone and email hacking scandal at its UK press division, News International, owns 39% of BSkyB. The British regulator, Ofcom, is currently weighing whether News Corp and its COO James Murdoch are “fit and proper” persons to own a broadcast license on behalf of BSkyB. Murdoch stepped down as chairman of the satellite broadcaster earlier this week. Ryley said Sky had commissioned an external review of its email records and an internal audit of payment records. The decision was made “as part of our ongoing commitment to acting responsibly and in light of the current, heightened interest in editorial practices.”
Separately, News International is said to be challenging actress Sienna Miller over legal bills. Miller was among the first celebrities to take News International to court over phone hacking. Nearly a year ago, News International agreed to pay her £100,000 but a source told The Associated Press that there was no amount agreed over legal bills and that the matter is now headed to court.
News Corp Shares Plunge 7.1% & BSkyB 7.5% Over UK Scandal Fears
Has UK Phone-Hacking Scandal Sunk Rupert Murdoch’s Biggest Deal?
Shareholders Sue News Corp: Corporate Governance “Culture Run Amok”
In an extraordinary twist, News Corp has done today what it has spent months trying to prevent, and has forced the UK government to refer its £9 billion deal to buy BSkyB outright to anti-trust regulator the Competition Commission. This will delay the deal for months. But crucially, it means that News Corp does not have to drop its bid entirely.
Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, had no choice but to stand up in the House of Commons this afternoon and announce he was referring the BSkyB deal to the anti-trust regulator. Hunt said the move would address the “abuses of power” that have dogged the biggest deal of Rupert Murdoch’s career. Hunt may have presented what he was doing as a victory for tough government, but the truth is that’s exactly what the Murdochs now want: They believe they will be cleared of having too much media ownership if they buy BSkyB outright. Europe’s anti-trust regulator has already cleared the deal on competition grounds. News Corp has withdrawn its offer to spin off Sky News as a separate entity. Previously, FCC-equivalent Ofcom said that spinning off Sky News would be enough to swing the deal in its eyes.
Hunt is desperately rowing back from his previously sympathetic attitude towards the BSkyB deal. He has ambitions to be Prime Minister and has finally realized that the mushroom cloud rising over News International, News Corp’s UK newspaper arm, could affect his political ambitions, I’m told. Hunt has written to other regulators, asking them whether they want to reconsider their original go-ahead for the bid. Ofcom still has the ability to scupper the deal if it decides that News Corp is not a fit and proper owner for BSkyB. Since its original advice, press regulator the Press Complaints Commission said it was lied to by News International, James Murdoch has admitted serious wrongdoing and there are allegations of a cover-up stretching back to 2007.
BSkyB shares were down 7.5% this afternoon at 694p per share — well under the 700p per share that News Corp originally offered for the 61% of the pay-TV behemoth it does not already own. Read More »
2ND UPDATE: A 5 AM walkthrough of the Royal Wedding route took place today complete with carriages, trumpeters and up to 1,000 members of the Armed Forces wearing full ceremonial uniform. Meanwhile, the first spectator has claimed his spot right outside Westminster Abbey, kitted out with flags, a sleeping bag and an umbrella. But when Prince William slides the wedding ring on Kate Middleton’s finger on April 29, will there really be an expected global audience of 2 billion watching? NBC keeps saying ”it’s completely false” that it has cut back on the number of pre-taped segments because U.S. networks may have overestimated America’s appetite for all things House of Windsor compared to 1981, when William’s father Prince Charles wed Lady Diana Spencer. This time, around 140 million U.S. viewers are expected to watch. Worldwide, when 800 million watched the Charles-Di nuptials, this time Tim Santhouse, operational manager at AP Television News Global Media Services tells me ”the volume of broadcasters coming to London, and the number of camera set-ups involved, is unprecedented in terms of interest from overseas broadcasters and the proliferation of news outlets.” AP will be providing camera set-ups and satellite uplinks for around 60 networks doing direct-to-camera pieces including Canada’s CTV, Australia’s Channel 9, and Arab news channel Al-Jazeera. The 62 broadcaster members of the European Broadcast Union -– which include ARD in Germany, France 2 and RAI in Italy –- will be getting their clean feed directly from the BBC. Sam Dubberly, who is in charge of forwarding BBC coverage, tells me, ”the closer we get to the wedding, the more requests we’ve been getting from members.” But NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster, won’t only out of respect for its still-grieving population in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami disaster.
Talk about a high-tech event: one estimate has 8,000 TV and radio reporters and support staff traveling from around the world into London to cover the nuptials, which start at 3 AM PT. Around 140 outside broadcast trucks with satellite uplinks will be parked in nearby Green Park, with every major world broadcaster lining up cameras along the procession route. The BBC will be using 21 cameras inside the scene of the wedding itself, Westminster Abbey, some of them wireless and remote-controlled. But Prince Charles’ office stopped Rupert Murdoch from shooting the wedding in 3D, saying there just wasn’t enough room for his extra equipment in the Abbey.
Here’s who’s trying to cash in on Friday’s wedding day: Read More »
Today sees huge changes in the British media landscape. Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, has approved Rupert Murdoch’s controversial bid to buy the 61% of pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB he does not already own. Hunt has decided not to refer News Corp’s £7.5 billion bid to UK antitrust regulator the Competition Commission. News Corp has offered to spin off news channel Sky News into a separate company. Rival news organisations have complained that News Corp would control too many news outlets if it owns Sky News and newspapers. Murdoch has offered to keep the loss-making news channel going for another 7-10 years. Sky News loses around £20 million ($33 million) each year. This approval is quite a milestone in seeing Rupert Murdoch becoming even more powerful. Read More »
City analysts think News Corp could be forced to pay up to £10.2bn ($16.2bn) for the 61% of BSkyB it doesn’t own. Sky’s shares rose by 11% after announcing strong first-half results this morning. Pre-tax profits at BSkyB rose to £467m in the last six months of 2010, with revenues up 15% to £3.2bn. Rupert Murdoch has flown into London to personally oversee negotiations with the British government. City analysts predict that, with results as good as these, the longer the deal is delayed, the more BSkyB’s share price will rise – and the more News Corp will be forced to pay. Its offer of 700p per share, valuing the deal at £7.5bn, has already been rejected. News Corp is sitting on a £5.42 billion cash pile. The pressure will be on to close the deal before News Corp shareholders question whether the company can really afford it. RBS, the City investment bank, tells me it expects the Sky deal will go through before June. “News Corp wants the deal to close asap and will work with the regulator to achieve that,” says Paul Richards, director of equity research at Numis.
Murdoch’s arrival comes during a week when his News Corporation has become the news, rather than reporting on it. First, there’s UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt giving the Murdochs more time to come up with ways to reduce News Corp’s media influence if he allows the deal to go through. … Read More »
Channel 4’s deputy chairman has gone on the attack again, bashing Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation for the amount of power they wield in British media. On Sunday Puttnam, former CEO of Columbia Pictures, gave an interview to the Observer newspaper, calling for UK business secretary Vince Cable to block News Corp from owning BSkyB outright. Puttnam warned the BBC this afternoon that a unified Murdoch empire would have a single voice penetrating newspapers, TV and e-readers. Read More »
Nobody expects UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to block Rupert Murdoch from buying the 61% of Sky he doesn’t already own. But Cable, a popular politician here in Britain, is unhappy about Murdoch’s tightening grip on UK media. The official cannot even start an examination until News Corp has filed its takeover bid with the European Commission in Brussels. I’m told that News Corp is still in pre-notification discussions with the IC and conversations are going back and forth between Brussels and News Corp headquarters in Isleworth, west London. Formal notification should happen within weeks.
Enders Analysis — the TV consultancy which has already written to Cable appealing for him to block News Corp’s Sky takeover on media plurality grounds — estimates that, sometime between 2015-2020, News International and Sky will control 50% of the UK newspaper and television markets respectively. Sky is already bigger than the BBC is terms of broadcasting revenue, earning £5.4 billion compared with the BBC’s £3.6 billion licence fee. “I think the chances of an intervention are very slim indeed,” Enders tells me.
This morning’s Financial Times has called on Cable to investigate the deal. Yet Cable, who’s a Liberal Democrat minister in the government coalition, is experiencing what any British politician – Conservative or Labour – fearful of upsetting the Murdoch press feels right now. Because Murdoch’s power, according to Labour PR adviser Lance Price, is rooted in fear of what he might do as much as in fear of what … Read More »
That’s Sky News in Arabic. The Financial Times reports that BSkyB is in talks to launch a 24-hour Arabic rolling news service, based in Abu Dhabi. The Sky News offshoot could launch within two years. The Arabic news channel would be 50/50 joint venture with an unnamed local investor.
I’m guessing that may be Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, whose Rotana Holdings Rupert Murdoch bought into back in February. Saudi-based Bin Talal has spoken about launching a Sky News-style channel. Murdoch owns 9% of Rotana, his largest investment in the Middle East to date. He has the option to increase his Rotana stake to 18.2% within 18 months.
I can see why Sky News positions itself as an edgier, less dowdy competitor to BBC News 24 here in Britain. But I’m less convinced there’s room to bring something new to the party in Arabia, despite there being 300 million Arab speakers in the world. Just imagine all that advertising cash. Sky News Arabia will be competing against Qatar-based al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya. And I wonder how local viewers will react when they realise it’s co-owned by the people behind Fox News.