Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Culture | By Marion Pratt

In shadow of Fox bid, James Murdoch re-elected Sky chairman

In shadow of Fox bid, James Murdoch re-elected Sky chairman

Sky's subscriber base swelled by a 160,000 new customers in the three months to late September, up 51 percent on a year earlier, it said in a trading update.

The group shrugged off pressure on consumer and advertising spending to post a 5% rise in revenues to £3.3 billion for the first quarter, while underlying earnings jumped 11% to £582 million.

Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said Sky was growing both revenue and profit in a tougher consumer market thanks to its new products, and a TV line-up that includes thriller "Riviera", its most successful original production to date, and "Game of Thrones".

The London-listed group has exclusive rights to USA broadcasting giant HBO´s television catalogue, which includes the current season of the award-winning show.

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Almost half of independent shareholders voted to oppose Mr Murdoch's reappointment amid concerns over his role as chief executive of 21st Century Fox, which is attempting to seize control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own in an £11.7 billion deal.

However, investors voted more than 78 percent in favour of his re-election at an annual general meeting at Sky´s London headquarters later on Thursday.

One shareholder, who did not give his name, said to Murdoch: "I have the same problem with my dad".

Mr Darroch said the group's investment in production was "delivering", with customer viewing to Sky pay channels up 10% year-on-year.

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Fox, which now owns 39.1% of Sky, is trying to buy full control of the business in a deal that would value the parent of Sky News at £18.5bn.

It will also look at the Murdoch family's ability to "influence the political agenda" and how that could change after the deal, alongside more general scrutiny of how it could affect the number and variety of media in the United Kingdom, including the "range of viewpoints".

UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has set out more details about what it intends to examine in its investigation into the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox, which owns STAR India. Among the key areas it is looking at are how the Murdoch Family Trust's control over Sky News might change after a merger; what potential influence the trust would have on the political agenda; and Fox, Sky, the MFT and News Corp's approach to corporate governance. With respect to media plurality, the CMA will assess the current level of media plurality in the United Kingdom, the extent to which the deal reduces that level of media plurality, and whether the remaining level of plurality of persons with control of media companies would be sufficient.

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