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Both Reuters and Bloomberg are carrying stories that Rupert Murdoch’s long-held plans to create a pan-European pay-TV unit are coming to fruition. The suggestions, unconfirmed, say that Murdoch wants to transform BSkyB into the holding vehicle for Murdoch’s other European pay-TV assets, Sky Deutschland (55 per cent owned by 21st Century Fox) and Sky Italia (wholly-owned by Fox).
The scheme is said to give “oversight” of the trio to BSkyB and to separate the programme side of the three businesses from the distribution arms. Bloomberg quotes Laura Martin, a media analyst at Needham & Co, saying: “I love this idea – it puts the distribution assets out of the content company’s hands. This is strategic alignment. It makes for a pure-play content company for Fox, but it’s also good for BSkyB to have a bigger global footprint.”
Both Reuters and Bloomberg say the three companies have been in talks for “months” and that a deal could be announced this summer.
A ‘Sky/News Corp Europe’ has been under consideration for years, and last week James Murdoch stated: “We’ve made no secret of our belief over the years that we think the Skys are strong together,” he said, speaking on a conference call. “Currently our focus is on operating each of those businesses as best we can.”
Back in 1998, Rupert Murdoch appointed Letizia Moratti (former chairman of RAI) as the chairman of News Corp Europe, which was to be based in Milan, but the plan fell apart after about a year.