MediaFile

from Breakingviews:

James Murdoch shouldn’t be kicked out of BSkyB

By Hugo Dixon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

James Murdoch shouldn’t be kicked out of BSkyB. Some observers want to use the Murdoch clan’s troubles at News International, their UK newspapers company, to run them out of town completely. But BSkyB, the pay-television group, is a separate business. And Murdoch Jr has done a good job first as its chief executive and now as its chairman.

Admittedly, Murdoch Jr hasn’t covered himself in glory in handling the alleged phone hacking and police bribery scandal. As well as being chairman of BSkyB, he has indirect responsibility at News Corp for the UK newspaper arm. He was slow to grip the problems -- not least by allowing Rebekah Brooks, who ran the papers and reported to him, to stay in her position for too long. There are now multiple probes into the saga which could embroil him further. But nothing has yet come out which should disqualify him from his BSkyB role.

It is also true that Murdoch Jr’s original appointment as BSkyB chief executive was nepotistic. But he then proved himself in the role. The business is now generating piles of cash –- in part because of the strategy he pursued. His track record isn’t perfect. But even the main cloud in his tenure -– his swoop on ITV –- had a silver lining. Although BSkyB wasn’t allowed to buy the TV group and lost a huge amount of money in the process, the raid did stymie a rival plan by Virgin Media to create a stronger anti-BSkyB front.

It might further be argued that BSkyB should have a chairman who isn’t also an employee of News Corp, which holds a 39 percent stake. But this needs to be weighed against the benefit in having that shareholder fully engaged in driving performance. What’s more, BSkyB’s eight independent directors, who constitute a majority of the board, have been robust in defending shareholders in the one case where there was a conflict of interest: News Corp’s attempt to acquire the remaining 61 percent. That bid has now been pulled. But there’s every reason to suppose that the independent directors would be equally robust if the furor over the hacking scandal dies down and the Murdochs return with a new bid.

News Corp beefs up lobbying team on Capitol Hill – wrong country?

RupertMurdoch DCNews Corp announced on Monday it is expanding its  Capitol Hill government affairs office by promoting veterans Bill Guidera and David Fares to senior vice president and adding two more execs in Kathy Ramsey and Kristopher Jones to the Washington team.

We’ve been assured by insiders there’s nothing afoot here but that it’s a recognition of Guidera and Fares’ work. Clearly, we’ll soon hear if there’s more to it in the near future.

Interestingly, if there’s one country where News Corp could do with better government relations right now it is not the US.  The company could probably do with some extra hands in the UK where News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch (pictured, left) is dealing with a number of touchy situations in terms of government relations particularly concerning his company’s bid to take full ownership of BSkyB, the British  satellite TV  provider.

Digital Britain vision lacks political roadmap

The UK government’s grand reworking of digital policy, due out Tuesday, has something for every one to chatter about — from funding for a further broadband buildout to reworking television licensing fees to how the country faces up to the issue of media piracy.

But final publication of the Digital Britain report on Tuesday follows the marked deterioration of the economic environment as well as the collapse of the political muscle needed to marshall the report’ more ambitious changes through Parliament.

Stephen Carter, the former U.K. cable executive, named as U.K.’s Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting only nine months ago, plans to leave the government soon after releasing the report.

Media’s in the blood in Murdoch household

shine-ltd-logo.JPGWhatever it is that drives Rupert Murdoch’s offspring out of the businesses he owns may also bring them back.

Could Elisabeth Murdoch return to daddy’s fold? Sure, according to a glowing profile in the New York Times on Monday of Rupert Murdoch’s elder daughter from his second marriage.

Once ruled out as a possible heir to Murdoch’s News Corp global media empire after her 2000 departure from Murdoch-controlled BSkyB to strike out — quite successfully — on her own, she stirs speculation anew over a possible return … someday.