Monday, December 04, 2006

800lb gorilla

James Murdoch seems to want it all ways. Complains about the BBC, but wants us to believe that BSkyB's investment in ITV is somehow honest.

On Friday, Murdoch junior, the Sky chief executive, accused the BBC of “megalomania” among other things.

In a speech in London, Murdoch laid into the BBC and said its digital ambitions smacked of megalomania, referring to what he said were its ambitions to create a British Google funded at the taxpayers' expense.

"Indeed, the UK's main state broadcasting agency, the BBC, famously fantasises about creating a 'British Google' -- and wants the taxpayer to fund it. This is not public service; it's megalomania," he said.

The words pot, kettle and black clearly mean nothing to Murdoch. He wants it all ways.

If the competition is, well, up to competing against the global might of News Corp then it must be stopped... competition such as the BBC, which is one of the few British media brands seen to have a global reach, or a merged ITV and NTL.

BSkyB spent £1bn breaking up that merger and seems to have got away with it.

Rupert Murdoch snapped up a 17.9% stake in ITV, effectively derailing NTL's £5bn merger bid for the commercial broadcaster. The move is currently being investigated by Ofcom, but I don't see any thing happening.

On Five Live last night with Jeff Randall, James Murdoch was explaining BSkyB's investment in ITV with lots of talk about being in it for the "long term" and seeing "value" in the business.

He hinted at why it was really done, by saying the "dynamics of the market around ITV played a part in creating the opportunity for us” before stressing "the reason we did it was very straightforward; that we see a lot of long-term value in ITV”.

Little of it rings true. Everyone knows that it did it to frustrate the competition, to unsettle the market, and its long-term am is to continue to frustrate anyone else who might want to buy ITV (such as European player and Five owner RTL) and create a credible commercial rival to Sky's 800lb bully of a gorilla.

BSkyB might have already lost a pile of money on the deal (it bought high at 135p and shares are now at 110p), but that is worth it to control the market in the way it does.

Of course no one is going to say that, because then there really would be an outcry and an investigation, but in the meantime it’s business as usual for the Murdochs, the regulators and the government.


At 11:59 AM, Anonymous the online xenophobe said...

Bloody Aussies. They come over here, take over our media, win The Ashes back and start slagging off the beeb!

Isn't this sort of unsporting behaviour why we deported them in the first place?


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