Feeds

Sky ruled OK to hold broadcast licence without Murdoch at helm

What if he was still in charge? 'That's hypothetical'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Communications regulator Ofcom today ruled that Sky - which is nearly 40 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp - IS fit and proper to hold a TV broadcast licence.

However Murdoch's son James - formerly chairman of BSkyB and still involved in running the family empire - was savaged by the watchdog, which questioned his managerial conduct and described some of his actions as "ill-judged" and difficult to comprehend.

In July last year, at the height of the UK centred phone-hacking scandal that swamped the Murdoch media empire, Ofcom finally responded to political pressure and waded into a row over News Corp's bid to takeover the remaining majority chunk - about 60 per cent - of BSkyB it didn't already own.

Ofcom had previously said it would wait for the police to complete an investigation into allegations relating to voicemail-tapping and other alleged misdeeds at Murdoch's British newspaper business, News International, before it would consider intervening on News Corp's proposed takeover of BSkyB.

When the regulator confirmed it would carry out a so-called "fit and proper" test of Sky's ability to hold a broadcasting licence, James Murdoch held chairmanships at BSkyB and News Group Newspapers - the parent company of News International.

In April this year, he quit his BSkyB chairman's role, which followed his departure in February from News International. James Murdoch now resides in New York where he works in his dad's stateside telly biz. But he remains as a non-exec director at NI and BSkyB.

In its report today, Ofcom said:

In the circumstances, and notwithstanding our views in relation to James Murdoch’s conduct, we do not consider, having taken into account all the relevant factors, that on the evidence available to date Sky is no longer fit and proper to hold broadcast licences.

Whilst we consider that James Murdoch’s conduct in various instances fell short of the standard to be expected of the chief executive officer and chairman, we do not find that James Murdoch’s retention as a non-executive director of Sky means that Sky is not fit and proper to hold broadcast licences.

We recognise that whether it is appropriate for James Murdoch to be a director in light of the events is a matter for the Board and shareholders of Sky.

The regulator repeatedly brought into question James Murdoch's competence as one-time CEO and chairman of News International.

Rupert and James Murdoch

Sorry, daddy

The Register asked Ofcom whether the outcome of its investigation might have been different had James Murdoch retained his chairmanship at Sky. A spokesman at the watchdog said:

It's a hypothetical question. As part of this ongoing duty, we reached a decision based on the facts and evidence at the time.

The facts are that James Murdoch is no longer at the helm of Sky: it's more than possible to imagine that if that were not a fact, a different decision might have been made. Even now, his relatively minor presence at Sky remains a touchy point for the broadcaster.

Ofcom's decision can be read here [PDF]. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.