Blocking News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB could “jeopardise” jobs, according to the chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, James Murdoch.
Speaking at a conference in Barcelona, Murdoch junior rejected concerns that News Corp’s takeover of the pay-tv operator would harm media plurality in the UK.
Murdoch, making his first comments since business secretary Vince Cable charged Ofcom with determining the effect the buyout will have on the UK media landscape, said that the government “needs to assess the benefits of having a digital TV business that is a world leader centred in the UK with all the things that it brings versus potentially jeopardising an £8bn investment in the UK with a prolonged plurality process”.
Citing the economic crisis the UK is currently facing, he reminded the government that “jobs, innovation and skills are really at a premium”.
Labelling News Corp a “world champion” of digital innovation, and hinting to the 30,000 jobs the corporation provides, Murdoch was not coy in claiming that the company is “at the epicentre of digital journalism transformation today”.
The jobs argument is unlikely to sway the UK media’s vehement opposition to the plans. Last month media companies across the UK – including BT, Guardian Media Group and the owners of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph – took a united stand against the proposed takeover, warning that the move could give Rupert Murdoch’s corporation a dangerous amount of power and influence in the UK.
Ofcom has until the 31 December to determine whether the takeover will be referred to the Competition Commission, which could block the buy-out altogether.