Thursday 18 January 2018

BSkyB backs Murdoch as chairman

Jamie Grierson

BSkyB today gave its backing to chairman James Murdoch after his role at the satellite broadcaster came under pressure in the wake of the News International phone-hacking scandal.

The FTSE 100 Index company said Mr Murdoch would remain as chairman as it revealed a 23% hike in annual operating profits to £1.1 billion - rubbing salt in the wounds of News Corporation, which earlier this month withdrew its bid for total control of the company.

The company also announced a partnership with rival BBC to broadcast live Formula 1 between 2012 and 2018, in a move which will see Sky Sports show all races, qualifying and practice sessions and BBC show half the races and qualifying sessions, including key dates such as the British Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix.

Mr Murdoch junior, deputy chief operating officer at News Corp, faced calls for his resignation as BSkyB chairman from MPs, shareholder groups and industry figures as the phone-hacking scandal unfolded.

The revelations led to News Corp pulling its bid for the 61% of the broadcaster it does not already own - for which it paid BSkyB a £38 million break fee.

Today's annual results laid bare the appeal of BSkyB to News Corp as the company revealed a 16% surge in annual revenue to £6.6 billion and net growth of 71,000 customers between April and June.

But there was some respite for News Corp as BSkyB revealed a £750 million share buyback - leading to a £293 million windfall for News Corp, more than covering the break fee it paid for calling off the approach.

BSkyB said the F1 deal with the BBC illustrated its commitment to grow even further - but would not reveal how much the rights to the sport cost.

Press Association

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