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We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

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Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Sky's limited - what's the appropriate level for a stake in ITV?

We are following the BSkyB and ITV story with ongoing interest. Rupert Murdoch's expansion into free to air commercial television through a legitimate backdoor, or so he thought.

To recap, BSkyB spent £940million buying ITV shares at 135p a share in November 2006.

The Competition Commission has found that the 17.9% holding owned by BSkyB was "against the public interest", as it gave Sky "a material influence over ITV", namely the ability to block shareholder resolutions requiring 75% approval, in effect, putting a potential handbrake on Michael Grade's freedom to move ITV forward in any direction he required.

Interestingly, the decision wasn't made on the grounds that the situation was anti-competitive in terms of TV advertising markets, sports rights bidding or plurality in television news - in effect then finding against Sky on the grounds of what it could potentially do, rather than what it actually has done.

Guilty until proven innocent? Is this fair?

Looks like Sky will be forced to reduce its position to around the 10% to 15% mark - which at todays share price of around 105p a share, will crystallise a £100m+ loss.

So, in effect, being "indirectly fined" for buying a position in a competitive business with only mere potential for causing trouble at some point.

Fair or not? Any views?


Anonymous said...

Sounds fair to me. Someone has to put a brake on Murdochs control of the media in the UK, this seems fairly sensible.

Anonymous said...

Rules are rules.

Murdoch has a long history of successfully managing to stretch them rules to fit his needs.

The music has finally case and the old boy and his son was left without a chair.

Your point about the 100m+ fine is more about if you play the markets you can get burnt. Murdich jnr got burnt (not fined)