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 …
ANALYSIS: Referring BSkyB Deal To UK Anti-Trust Regulator A Smooth Move By Scandal-Plagued News Corp
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 …