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Can News Corp salvage the Sky takeover?

Robert Peston | 11:02 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ofcom's verdict on News Corporation's £7.5bn plan to buy the 61% of British Sky Broadcasting it doesn't already own is unambiguous (as I said it would be on 13 January).

Sky button on remote control

 

Here is what Ofcom's report on the proposed deal says:

"The proposed acquisition may be expected to operate against the public interest since there may not be a sufficient plurality of persons with control of media enterprises providing news and current affairs to UK-wide cross-media audiences."

Which is why Ofcom recommends that there should be "a fuller second stage review of these issues by the Competition Commission to assess the extent to which the concentration in media ownership may act against the public interest".

Now under the 2002 Enterprise Act, as amended by the 2003 Communications Act, Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, does not have to take Ofcom's advice. But at first glance, his statement this morning suggests he is taking this advice.

Mr Hunt says that having had talks in recent days with BSkyB and News Corporation, he intends "to refer the merger to the Competition Commission".

Which seems pretty clear. Except that it isn't. Because Mr Hunt adds:

"News Corporation says that it wishes me to consider undertakings in lieu which it contends could sufficiently alleviate the concerns I have such that I should accept the undertakings instead of making a reference (to the Competition Commission). It is appropriate for me to consider such undertakings."

So what on earth does it all mean?

News Corporation has a couple of weeks or so to come up with a scheme to overcome the objection raised by Ofcom that the full takeover of BSkyB would reduce the number of providers of news and current affairs services to an unacceptable extent.

What kind of remedy would that be? Well given that Ofcom is primarily concerned that Sky News would not remain a powerful independent voice, News Corporation would presumably have to come up with a wheeze to demonstrate that Sky News's distinctiveness and autonomy would not be compromised.

How could News Corporation achieve that? Well the obvious thing for Rupert Murdoch's vast media conglomerate to do would be to sell Sky News - though I have no sense of enthusiasm on the part of News Corporation that it wishes to do that.

To be clear, selling Sky News would not be easy, because it is a consumer of cash, not a profit centre. Finding a buyer with deep enough pockets to guarantee that Sky News could thrive in the long term would be quite a challenge.

Anyway let's assume that News Corporation comes up with undertakings to guarantee Sky News' independence, what would happen then?

Well Mr Hunt would then ask for the advice of both the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom whether News Corporation had done enough to maintain plurality or choice in the provision of news and current affairs. And he then would make the final decision.

Here's the thing. Mr Hunt insists he is simply acting according to the spirit of the Enterprise Act, drafted by the previous government. That gives him the ability to do such a deal with News Corporation to avoid the need for a lengthy investigation by the Competition Commission.

As for concerns that he might act in a biased manner or capriciously in making the ultimate ruling, he would say that his decision to ask the OFT and Ofcom to review any compromise put forward by News Corporation should allay those fears.

Except that critics of News Corporation's determination to own all of BSkyB won't see it that way. They'll allege that a government whose Tory ministers are on friendly terms with News Corp's senior executives is bending over backwards to help News Corp.

To be clear, it's pretty hard to judge whether Mr Hunt is being kinder to News Corporation than he needs to be, because we are in new territory. Although the law that set up the plurality test of media takeovers was enacted in 2003, it has never been used in a takeover of this size and importance.

Which means that it is altogether plausible that if Vince Cable hadn't been sent off the field of play by the prime minister following his injudicious remarks that he had gone to war with Mr Murdoch and News Corporation, he might well have given News Corporation less opportunity to manoeuvre around the Ofcom blockage.

But why on earth does it matter to News Corporation whether or not the planned takeover is put on hold for another six months or more by a reference to the Competition Commission?

Well, according to bankers close to BSkyB, there is a risk that the intrinsic value of the television giant would rise so much in the course of 2011 that BSkyB's independent directors would demand a price that News Corporation either could not or would not pay.

Those independent directors have already turned down a price of 700p a share offered by News Corporation. And BSkyB is apparently performing so well, and generating so much cash, that those independent directors could well reject a bid of 800p per share in a few months time.

So time is very much of the essence for News Corporation if it wants to acquire all of BSkyB at what it believes to be an acceptable price.

Which means that although News Corporation is hopping mad with Ofcom and believes that the regulators' recommendations, analysis and conclusions are prejudiced and wrong, it is probably going to have to swallow its pride by making credible concessions to ensure that Sky News' independence, impartiality and financial strength are seen to be guaranteed.

Update 12:22: Here are a one or two further thoughts about Ofcom's report and Mr Hunt's response.

First Ofcom makes an important point that is only tangentially related to News Corp's bid for Sky.

The regulator says that - with the technology of news distribution changing so fast, the rise of the electronic tablet (iPads et al) and all of that - there is a risk that one or two companies could come to dominate the provision of news and current affairs, irrespective of whether there are further takeovers.

But there are no legislative provisions for addressing damaging reductions of plurality or choice for consumers in those circumstances.

Ministers can only intervene when plurality is imperilled by a takeover (which is what Ofcom alleges could happen if News Corp buys all of Sky).

So Ofcom urges the government to consider whether it should take new powers to intervene in the market for news if it sees the creation of excessively powerful news providers.

Second, I should point out that Ofcom's statistical analysis of how News Corporation would acquire what it sees as too much clout in the provision of news through the Sky acquisition does highlight that there is only one true giant in news.

That is not News Corp or Sky - it is the BBC, whose share of "reach" and "share of reference" is massively greater than any other news provider. In fact the BBC's share is somewhere between 50% and 90% greater than even the combined forces of News Corp and Sky.

News Corp sees Ofcom's statistical analysis as fundamentally flawed, but I don't think it would disagree with that point.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Lets see what sort of offer News Int. come up with. I suspect it will be good enough for Mr Hunt to justify a approval. Is that a good outcome - probably not. Is it partly a result of the Government's close connections with the Government - of course (Blair and Brown were the same). But to some extent it was Vince and his big mouth that handed Murdoch & Son their second chance.

    I also suspect News will want to get this all done and dusted before the phone hacking issue gets even more toxic.

    What I don't understand is why an investigation by News takes so long or requires Edmondson's emaiils to be exaamined.

    Surely if Murdoch and Son want to find out the truth all they need to do is call in

    - Rebekah Brooks;

    - Andy Coulson;

    - Edmondson;

    - Mulcaire

    - any other key executives

    and ask them what they know about phone hacking. So far as I can tell it is only poor Mr Coulson that has ever been asked this question directly.

    By focussing on emails it seems to me that News are most concerned about finding out what could be proved against them rather than uncovering the truth.




  • Comment number 2.

    Robert - I think you're becoing obsessed.

    I did hear today that despite being attached to a subscription channel - SKY News actually make a whopping loss year on year.

    Makes you wonder what the real reason behind keeping SKY news is......I mean is it just me or can only the mega-rich run papers and TV news that spout their views across the planet.

    You accuse the BBC of bias? - well at least it's technically owned by the license fee payer - most other sources of news are owned by a single person and are essentially the PR arm of their expanded ego's.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is starting to feel wrong. The bid has to be referred to the competition commission or it will be accused of being some sort of corrupt fit-up.

    And the fact that the decision moved from Cable to Hunt will make that all the more likely.

    Which is why an independent BBC is important - although I wold prefer to see it add to it's requirement for "balance" one whereby it strove to deliver more analysis backed up by facts rather than head into the Blogosphere, where opinions can be plucked out of thin air at a whim - particularly in the political arena.

  • Comment number 4.

    Murdoch may agree to separate Sky News by selling it off, but since Sky News does not have much income it may not survive, and there is nothing to stop News Corp from starting a new News channel under a new name. So offers to separate Sky News are worthless.

  • Comment number 5.

    Erm. "wishes me to consider undertakings in lieu" sounds like the phrase a well coached public official in a very corrupt country would use to validate "enabling payments". I am not sure that this would be very different in the UK nowadays.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Well, according to bankers close to BSkyB, there is a risk that the intrinsic value of the television giant would rise so much in the course of 2011 that BSkyB's independent directors would demand a price that News Corporation either could not or would not pay."

    You mean SPECULATORS - trying to make a quick buck pushing the price up and distorting the market.

    ....all in a good days "work" eh?

    I would be upset normally - but as it's happening to such an odious man I'm quite pleased at the corrupt nature of the stock market on this occasion.

    I mean the world is going crazy - look at this statement from News corp.

    "News Corp was also fiercely critical of Ofcom, accusing the regulator of "failing to approach the effects of this transaction with an open mind""

    Open minded? - News Corp? - isn't this the pot calling the kettle, frying pan and all the other cooking utensils black?

    The day any body needs lecturing on independent thinking from News Crap international is the day the sun goes and hides behind the moon - permanently.

  • Comment number 7.

    THE ENEMY

    'News Corporation has subsidiaries in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands and the Virgin Islands. From 1986, News Corporation's annual tax bill averaged around seven per cent of its profits.[16]'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch

  • Comment number 8.

    Can News Corp salvage the Sky takeover?

    NO.

  • Comment number 9.

    Modern British adversarial politics is a storm in a teacup, the parties oppose each other in the dip in the middle of an M, for Misleading the electorate as to what the far right and far left is. The real 'far right' is economic libertarianism, without pointing out that it is the inevitable, entropic, result of inaction, i.e inertia, of pseudo-adversial liberal-democractic politics we have endured for decades. See the shift in The Sun under Murdoch's Neocon influence.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/oct/17/citynews.politics

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't believe that news ownership is the major issue.
    Sky and News International are both major hoarders of entertainment content, and there union isn't going to make that any better.
    It seems possible that Sky could end up hoarding Fox created programs on its platform the way it is about to with HBO created programs.

    If the BBC didn't exist Sky and News International combined would be such a behemoth on our media & news landscape that this wouldn't even be considered.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm sure a compromise could be had that would satisfied both Mr Carmeron & Murdoch.

  • Comment number 12.

    I view TV to be like libraries. Somethings should never ever be subjected to market forces. Somethings should never be beholden to one rich guy and his unadultered need to mould our minds to no more than trivial tissue either. He'd be the equivalent of the pope locking up Galileo. It isn't want he says, it is what he does. Just watch FOX news for one evening, then make your judgement.

    Murdoch and his crew would never have brought us David Attenborough, Prof Ian Stewart or Prof Brian Cox. That means no thanks. Go away. Stay out of my enlightened country. Our human minds deserve far better than his paltry offerings.

    The BBC has always got room for impovement, particularly over coverage of foreign policy. Nevertheless, Sky will never catch up, even if it wanted to.

  • Comment number 13.

    Surprise surprise!

    It now seems that Jeremy Hunt has largely ignored the advice from Ofcom and is giving News Corp another chance to reshuffle its affairs so it can "appear" that the news provider isn't becoming unacceptably large or powerful. We'll see.....

    That's the trouble with politicians. They tell you one thing to your face and then do the complete opposite behind your back.

    Check out George Monbiots story in the Guardian today. It appears that the government have been trying to tell us they were keen on limiting banker's bonuses whilst actively campeigning in the EU to maintain the status quo all along.

    Or the Pensions Secretary, Steve Webb's, insistence that the uprating of Public Sector pensions can be switched from RPI to CPI without requiring any changes to legislation (i.e. "it's a done deal"), when in fact, we now know that most Public Sector pensions specifically refer to RPI in their regulations and that the government is now secretly trying to "amend these offending clauses" in the contracts of millions of pensioners, before April.

    Check out the consultation letter from the SPPA (Scottish Public Pensions Agency) to the LGPS's (Local Government Pension Scheme) Regulations Consultees on 26th November 2010 which states:

    "The current definition is indexing in accordance with the Government Index of Retail prices". We intend to change this to read "...indexing in accordance with the Pensions Increase Act."

    Scandalous. I estimate this will cost millions of pensioners around 20% of their pension.

    In fact, Robert or Steph, maybe you should do a blog on this very subject to bring it to people's attention before April?

  • Comment number 14.

    I'll be surprised if it's referred, the wording from Hunt is designed to allow him to say 'I've checked it so don't worry, no need for alarm (or referral)' - announcement in a couple of weeks no doubt.

  • Comment number 15.

    #13

    Here's the Monbiot link

    Bonus Balls
    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2011/01/24/bonus-balls/

  • Comment number 16.

    it might be nice to blame nasty Mr Murdoch for all the ills in news reporting and it was fun turning the main theme into a Bond Movie where a crazed media baron starts making the stuff to his own financial ends but the Government cannot impose choice on us when news is a loss leader and we already have the behemoth which is the BBC. It is inevitable that choice in the formats as currently presented will shrink. Will the government then run a lottery and impose on a few of the unlucky winners the demand that they set up their own newspapers?

  • Comment number 17.

    Murdoch used The Sun's pre-election support in order to force through this takeover of BskyB. Basically, this deal is the secret price of supporting the Conservative party at the election.

    Ofcom has told Jeremy Hunt to forward the matter to the Competition Commission. But he has (uniquely for this case) decided to delay the matter for 6 months to give the Murdochs “a chance”.

    This is just the first part of a long U-turn; given the chance, Hunt will eventually give the deal the go-ahead, despite the Oftom's report. The delay is just to wait for a “good day to bury bad news”, i.e. he hopes things will die down.

    We can't let it die down. Hunt must be confronted with these suspicions. He works for us – the British public, not Murdoch. The dithering Mr Hunt has had his parameters from Ofcom, and we expect him to act properly.

    Jeez, that guy. He's got more front than a bus.

  • Comment number 18.

    Can News Corp salvage the Sky takeover?
    Probably, but I don't think it's the right move.
    Why?
    Because what normally pases for "news" has been spun, slanted towards the political bias of the owners (or powers that be) and readers must siphon out what is relevant (and hopefully reasonably close to the truth) for themselves. Unfortunately, most people are too tired, pre-occupied, or unquestioning to do that.
    My bottom line is this:
    Ofcom was created, given a mandate; any & all extraneous parties ought to leave the situation alone - between Ofcom and Murdoch(s).
    Ofcom has already recommended that there should be "a fuller second stage review of these issues by the Competition Commission to assess the extent to which the concentration in media ownership may act against the public interest".
    Mr. Hunt appeared to intend to take this advice. Mr Hunt said that having had talks in recent days with BSkyB and News Corporation, he intended "to refer the merger to the Competition Commission".
    As for the rest of Mr. Hunt's statement: "News Corporation says that it wishes me to consider undertakings in lieu which it contends could sufficiently alleviate the concerns..."
    Why would Mr. Hunt do this? Why is he not just making the referral to the Competition Commission?
    Where is the pressure coming from?
    Why was Cable released because he intended to make a good, honourable fight out of this situation, and why was the more amenable Mr. Hunt brought in? If Vince Cable hadn't been deprived of this opportunity by ther PM, he might well have given News Corporation less opportunity to manoeuvre around the Ofcom blockage, and that sounds good by me.
    The assessment of any recommendations i.e. to demonstrate that Sky News's distinctiveness and autonomy would not be compromised is an assessment that belongs to The Competitiom Commission, not Jeremy Hunt.
    Mr Hunt insists he is simply acting according to the spirit of the Enterprise Act, drafted by the previous government. That gives him the ability to do such a deal with News Corporation to avoid the need for a lengthy investigation by the Competition Commission. Why should Mr. Hunt worry about the time required by the Competition Commission?
    This has more to do with the Coalition Government, especially the Tories and their evidently very keen desire to remain on exceedingly friendly terms with News Corp's senior executives. I suppose this understandable, if a little under-handed.
    If News Corporation is hopping mad with Ofcom - all the more reason to make the referral and allow those whose job it is to assess the competitive implications.
    Who knows more about all aspects of the competitive process - The Competition Committee of Mr. Hunt?
    The Government is stepping into a new territory; the Government is ill-equiped to set precedents in this new territory, and that is what it is doing: setting a precedent.
    Can Mr. Hunt, please, get out of the way of due process?

  • Comment number 19.

    Surely all this fuss is unnecessary.
    Now that Robert has revealed that BSkyB is worth far more than News Int has offered the other shareholders will not sell!

  • Comment number 20.

    Perhaps if ministers could intervene on grounds other than those occasioned by take overs the CC might feel happier about Ming the Merciless taking full ownership. Alternatively create an externally based form of governance for Sky News with a written charter - BBCfy it!

    If BSkyB is doing so well the price will have to be much better than the offer anyway. If Murdoch needs inside information there is a Mr. Mulcaire who might need some work.

  • Comment number 21.

    Blimey....with the number of issues that have cropped up over the past week I think Ed will have some fun at Dave's expense during tomorrows PMQs.

    But then again, it's all just out of season pantomime for the plebs.

  • Comment number 22.

    4. At 11:58am on 25th Jan 2011, martinb63 wrote:

    "Murdoch may agree to separate Sky News by selling it off, but since Sky News does not have much income it may not survive, and there is nothing to stop News Corp from starting a new News channel under a new name."

    Correct - he could call it FOX.

  • Comment number 23.

    7. At 12:43pm on 25th Jan 2011, DebtJuggler

    Funny how Rupert is so critical of a regulator which his corporation barely supports through their tax avoidance and who is in their way of exploiting the UK market even more than they currently do.

  • Comment number 24.

    A firewall should be set up between big business and media barons on the one hand and politicians on the other. Otherwise there will continue to be suspicion, in cases such as this, that not all is honest and above board. The problem has two roots, the financing of politics by very large donations and deliberately biased reporting in the press. Both should be banned.

    Donations should be by individuals only, and limited to a level that almost anyone could afford. Perhaps about 0.5% of average income. All media should be required to obey the rules requiring balance, which presently apply to radio and TV, because support by a national newspaper, for example, is effectively a very large donation in kind.

    Some taxpayer support might be required to replace the funds no longer available to parties. This could be limited by reducing campaigning costs, for example by extending the ban on the use of radio and TV advertising for political purposes, to all commercial advertising. In any case only a tiny fraction of total government expenditure would be required and would be well worth it.

  • Comment number 25.

    One offshoot from this is the Andy Gray saga.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the additional footage broadcast exclusively yesterday on Sky News is an attempt to show the neutrality of Sky News.

    I personally don't like Andy Gray, he started as a great pundit, but now his ego seems to mean that his opinion is the only opinion and he brow beats fellow pundits into submission.

    However, it seems that Sky are happy to offer up his career to ensure that they BSKYB can get ultimately what it wants.

    It's not just Sky News that should be considered. Sky has a monopoly on Sport, particularly football and although it will offer up channels to the likes of Virgin Media, it will not pass on the red button technology, so multi screen viewing is not available on Virgin Media.

    If you'd have said to me, twenty years ago that we would pay fifty quid a month to watch repeats and cheap US TV on virtually every channel, I'd have laughed.

    But that's exactly what we do, plus we get the bonus of adverts every ten minutes.

    To think, people complain about the licence fee.

  • Comment number 26.

    I had to laugh when I heard Andy Gray and Richard Keyes acting like the "scared little trouser boys they are" - fearful of the marching of womens feet up the hill of 'male sacracent' which threatens to take away their remaining dignity.

    I was less surprised to see the media defence go out which was along the lines of "they would have criticised any other referee in the same way, male of female" - a defence which forgets that a) it was comments before the match and b) The lady linesperson was actually spot on with the biggest decision in the game.

    Now try and move this defence of the indefencible to politics - and wonder why we have such idiotic MEN of a certain age running the country.....and then maybe you can see why so many bad decisions are based on the prejudice this age and gender group usually has (I say usually, we're not all like that)

    Just as I said the other day - where is the accountability? I mean Ron Atkinson was fired, Carol Thatcher was fired - so why do the 'high standards' of Sky Sports mean Keyes and Gray keep their jobs?

    It's either sub-standard quality from Sky - or the same male chauvanists who maraud the commentary box also maraud the boardrooms - thereby protecting these chinless wonders.

    It hurts me to criticise Gray as a Wolves fan - but morality is valued higher than loyalty.
    As for 'the hairy palmed one' - well he can swing from the tree like the monkey he is for all I care.

    How sad must they be - despite reaching the peak of their careers (undoubtebly) - they still feel the need to belittle the fairer sex in order to make themselves feel important.
    ....and as for Karen Brady.....she wants to stop being so diplomatic and tell the world the truth about 'the sexist game' - and she knows it's not just football.

    Most wives and girlfriends out there know if you let a middle aged man do what he wants - it always ends in stupidity (Jeremy Clarkson an ideal specimen) - and somehow we've let these spoilt little boys run the country!

  • Comment number 27.

    You know what - I don't care. It is obvious that Hunt et al will somehow work out a deal behind the scenes to make the takeover a viable proposition to OFCOM. Therefore my opinion has no effect on this debate.

  • Comment number 28.

    laughed at your post Mr Beige about james bond and crazed media baron.
    a good point that the structure of media and journalism is changing at a cracking rate with internet, mobile phone TV etc all changing how and when we consume news.
    Does anyone actually subscribe to the Times Online????
    I say this as someone who has never paid a penny to Sky TV etc., but who is genuinely horrified at the number of impoverished households to whom Sky subscription is considered a necessity above clothing, food.
    I feel I am out of touch with general public opinion. I guess that most of the current editorial comment in newspapers, blogs etc would be rendered invalid if the british electorate took a giant leap for "independence" and voted in a general election solely on the basis of negating the advice given in the Sun newspaper the day before polling! (The many-worlds theorem of quantum mechanics falls down because of this alarming coincidence)
    And I am not sure if the final outcome for the UK would be very different.

  • Comment number 29.

    It's not really important to the average consumer whether NewsCorp takes over BSkyB or not - as Robert says, BBC is a far larger provider, through terrestrial and cable TV channels together with the website. In reality, opponents of the takeover are positioning themselves to use it as a convenient reason to a)hopefully give R Murdoch a black eye for being so uppity, or b) if it looks like happening, prise one or more or NewsCorp's newspaper titles away from them. Best solution is to appoint an independant editorial board for Sky News.

  • Comment number 30.

    Before Mr Blair done his deal with Mr Murdoch so he could get elected in 1997 there was a lot of talk about bringing in a law which states that all important England matches, football and cricket should be freely available on terrestial tv. I don't know what sort of deal Mr Cameron done to get elected but did it include exclusive sports rights? Passing laws to show England matches on freeview would at least water down sky's virtual monopoly. There's no way the government can stop the takeover after Mr Cable's headfirst dive into the 'honey trap'. Is there an mp brave enough to stick his head out the window?

  • Comment number 31.

    If you were going to make a ficticous film of this, you could either go for a comedy, or a thriller.

    If a comedy, Vince Cable would be a buffoon, and Jeremy Hunt - well you decide.

    If a thriller, News corp would have hired undercover agents to "honey trap" Vince to be indiscrete, and then leaked the story to Robert, once the Telegraph decided to do the "right thing", in order to get the result they wanted.

    Either way, this situation will thrill conspiracy theorists for decades.

  • Comment number 32.

    We should be reminded to say "be careful what you wish for".

    Consider Newscorp being refused by Ofcom and the Competition Commission. Murdochs x2 then have to consider their strategic direction in the UK. One strong possibility is to divest.

    - a sale of their holding in Sky - who will develop Sky from that point onwards? We may not like Murdochs but the shear volume of new products thay have brought to market over the last 10 years have been amazing and ground breaking. Would a pension fund do this?

    - A sale of one or more of their papers. These are already in decline - who will take them over and at what price?

    Strangely, the new investors in Sky or one or more papers may also be referred to Ofcom. Lets hope we would prefer the new faces....






  • Comment number 33.

    I think my last posting was foggy, I forgot silly me that noone won the last general election outright, and the Sun newspaper did not predict THAT REVELATION...
    hence, (a)the many-worlds theorem of quantum mechanics COULD be true,
    (b)three cheers the british electorate CAN think independently
    (c)Vince Cable - Rupert Murdoch let's have a fight.....(apologies to Harry Hill)
    (d)coalition governments take longer and are more difficult to corrupt?
    (e)please more sport on BBC, Alan Hansen is a gentleman and would never say a sexist comment?

  • Comment number 34.

    @Cassandra
    I suspect a jammie dodger and a bottle of cheap whiskey would be enough to convince Hunt this is a good move.

  • Comment number 35.

    I stopped buying the Australians' newspapers years ago. I really enjoyed my Times everyday until they changed their editorial policy before the last election.
    On the day that Hunt approves the bid as I am sure that he will is the same day that I cancel my subscription to Sky television.

  • Comment number 36.

    good post bob about football, more on BBC please
    Here is a plot for crookwood's film (definitely a tragedy):
    RM and Sky have done harm to English football.
    Think about the 2010 world cup performance
    Correlate it with the obscene amounts of money paid to premier league footballers and their managers, and the dire state of clubs not in this division.
    Also think about Olympics 2012.
    Where is our home team? weep wail
    RM, FA, Sky good for English football make your own conclusion

  • Comment number 37.

    I guarantee you, the gap between Murdoch gaining just enough power and financially fleecing humanity will be measured in Planck time. The only reason he hasn't already done so is because he hasn't got all his pieces in place yet - of which full ownership of BSB is just the next step. Mark my words: if we end up where Murdoch wants us it'll be too late to turn back and much that was good will be gone - forever.

  • Comment number 38.

    25. At 14:58pm on 25th Jan 2011, Losewithgrace wrote:
    One offshoot from this is the Andy Gray saga.


    Crikey ! I had to reach for the whisky there . The only saga's I have at my age are their holidays........The other Mr Gray has been red carded it seems.

  • Comment number 39.

    26. At 15:31pm on 25th Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    > Keyes and Gray keep their jobs?

    One down, one to go.

    > stupidity (Jeremy Clarkson an ideal specimen) - and somehow we've let these
    > spoilt little boys run the country!

    Toleration, that great strength of the English, is now a burden. You folks need to some more fire in your bellies. If you don't like something, then smash it up - it's that simple. Arhghh - none have you have the guts.

  • Comment number 40.

    26. At 15:31pm on 25th Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    I had to laugh when I heard Andy Gray and Richard Keyes acting like the "scared little trouser boys they are" - fearful of the marching of womens feet up the hill of 'male sacracent' which threatens to take away their remaining dignity.

    And more.

    ..................................................

    Unusually, I have to agree with you 100% on this one. Gray, Keyes, Clarkson and their ilk have no place in public life.


  • Comment number 41.

    Looks like all the wine and dine offensive News International has done in the past is redundant. And the excuse that they pay taxes in this country is a bit of an, well lets be realistic, the staff pay income tax here.....
    So what actually is the case for allowing the purchase of Sky? Do the government gain anything of value is tax of value as they keep harking on about?

    This will run and run, and with the ongoing phone hacking and now star staffs dismissal's all is not good on the PR front.
    In and english way I am caught up with this event, hoping for the failure in the end.
    Sorry and all that but really I not bothered ......

  • Comment number 42.

    The real issue is why we allow Foreign Nationals to own any Newspapers or Broadcasting Companies, but then I guess as a Right Winger, that is just my Xenophobia.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Murdoch clan have their mits into all forms of UK media and as foriegn nationals they should be limited as neither father or son really care about Britain itself but simply how much cash they can milk out of the country. Elisabeth is at least domiciled here and doesnt appear to have any direct interest in Newscorp, but both Rupert & James regularly take shots at the BBC & ITV as their greed has no end. I would definately block the BSkyB takeover its not in Britains interest.

  • Comment number 44.

    Melinda Gates and immunisation - I see Capitalists are being philanthropic over on Fergal Walsh's blog - how does that go down with all our local revolutionaries then?

  • Comment number 45.

    40. At 17:41pm on 25th Jan 2011, Uphios wrote:
    26. At 15:31pm on 25th Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    I had to laugh when I heard Andy Gray and Richard Keyes acting like the "scared little trouser boys they are" - fearful of the marching of womens feet up the hill of 'male sacracent' which threatens to take away their remaining dignity.

    And more.

    ..................................................

    Unusually, I have to agree with you 100% on this one. Gray, Keyes, Clarkson and their ilk have no place in public life.
    =========================

    a tad over the top don't you think? In fact a bit like Messers Gray and Keyes I'd say.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Murdochs have one thing in mind. Money.
    They see the path to greater riches as being monopoly owners of a broadcasting channel.
    They currently own 39% and they want the rest.
    To do so they will have to raise the capital to buy out the remaining 61%
    I rather doubt they have the required £7.5bn estimated to be needed.
    So they will raise it. Leveraged buy out style.
    The channel will get into debt and pay it off with subscriptions.
    The banks with the capital look to be happy with this arrangement.
    Loads of money to be made.
    Ofcom seems to be unimpressed.
    The banks will shortly have another asset to write into their balance.

    This was always going to happen. Remember the Squariel? Thought not.
    And this is the end.

  • Comment number 47.

    #26. At 15:31pm on 25th Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    ".......................It hurts me to criticise Gray as a Wolves fan - but morality is valued higher than loyalty......................"

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is getting spooky, I lived in Wolverhampton for thirty years after leaving York and followed Wolves home and away from 1974 to 2005. I used to write articles for the fanzine ALOB.

  • Comment number 48.

    (Do you have a) Tense, Nervous Headache?

    (Are you suffering from) Jet Lag?

    (Are you worried about your) Truculent Workforce?

    (Do people see you as a) Tyrranical Boss?

    (Is aggressive marketing) Wearing You Out?

    (Do you find that TV sports commentators have suddenly) Become Sexist?

    Forget it all.

    Relax.

    Take time out in sunny DAVOS.

    Rub shoulders with the world's financial elite.

    But, to paraphrase Frank Zappa, watch out for that yellow snow...

  • Comment number 49.

    If the takeover occurs and Sky News follows an agenda similar to the Sun, then with the BBC following the Guardian, will ITN be the only provider of balanced TV news coverage in the UK?

    Peter Sissons who was a newsreader and interviewer for both BBC and ITN for many years recently wrote at length about how ITN was and is far more objective in its news coverage. He recalls how many times at the BBC he asked news producers for the background/line to take with interviewees on a story, and was simply handed a copy of The Guardian and told "its all in here".

  • Comment number 50.

    sorry I forgot the righteous opponents of "poppy fascism" at CH4 news. we really do have such a plurality of balanced news coverage ...

  • Comment number 51.

    Robert, You are involved, and you are the news on this one.

    Prediction:
    Murdoch gets his way.
    Bankers will get paid more.
    High Speed Rail will not go through my back yard.

    Thats the government that we voted for.

  • Comment number 52.

    #49
    I agree entirely; I would always watch Channel 4 News (provided by ITN) from choice (which I don't often get).

  • Comment number 53.

    So, Mervin King says pay squeeze is necessary as in:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12282405

    Nice of him to say so - he must be on a generous package himself so what does he care about the little people? Hey, the guy failed at his job in the first place, by falling asleep at the wheel at the height of the credit boom, but now he feels free to preach austerity to others. What is going to be his contribution? Cameron's Big Society at work for all to see...

  • Comment number 54.

    All these comments assume that only News International and the regulators are involved. At the end of the day it is up to the present owners of BSkyB to decide.

  • Comment number 55.

    Had to cancel DAVOS trip after all?

    Incapable of delegating because you cannot rely on underlings to do the job properly?

    Still stressing at your time of life?

    Tired of people calling you nasty names?

    Feeling unloved?

    Relax. Go with the flow. Take the good advice of OFCOM and loosen your grip.

    You know it makes sense.

    (9 out of 10 pluralists agree)

  • Comment number 56.

    I recall a colleague of mine (foreman) when he went of to the WC with a rolled-up News of The World stuffed up jumper, he said 'The paper takes him about 7 minutes to read from end to end, just about the same time for him to complete his dump'. The experts say the memory retention of gold fish is once round the bowl and they forget where they have just been!

 

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