While attention of some pundits has been on the fallout from the EU leaders’ summit last week in Salzburg, and others have concentrated on the Labour Party conference taking place in Liverpool, one very important piece of news has gone unnoticed. It’s a very significant item, signalling as it does the end of Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to get his hands on the 61% of Sky that he does not already control.
As the BBC has reported, “US cable giant Comcast has submitted the highest bid in the auction for broadcaster Sky, valuing the company at more than £30bn … Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch's Fox in a rare blind auction process set by the UK's Takeover Panel … The firm's chairman and chief executive said it was ‘a great day for Comcast’”.
Worse for Rupe was “Sky has recommended its shareholders accept the bid, saying it was an ‘excellent outcome’ and ‘represents materially superior value’”. Comcast is looking to close the deal by the end of next month, bringing to an end Murdoch’s dream of 100% ownership, which began eight years ago but was blown off course by the phone hacking scandal. Now he gets a shed load of money, but no control.
But the person who will be most miffed at the news is not Don Rupioni, but the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks, whose barely concealed ambition to become CEO of Sky one day was hinted at by Private Eye magazine in Issue 1477. Observing the Sun’s plugging of TalkSPORT, the Eye had this to say.
“The success of TalkSPORT and its Wireless radio network [which also includes Virgin Radio, future home at great cost of Chris Evans] has become critical for [News UK] CEO Rebekah Brooks after the collapse of her other pet project, Sun Bets. That dismal failure not only denies Rebekah the chance to attend her beloved Cheltenham racing festival every year as ‘work’ (the company sponsored at race); it also invites humiliating comparisons with the roaring success of Sky Bet, which was sold for $3.4bn four months ago”. Zelo Street covered the Sun Bets fiasco - see HERE.
Then came the killer comment. “Sun Bets was meant to help Rebekah show the Dirty Digger that anything Sky could do, she could do as well. Noting how in thrall she is to the pay-TV giant, her News UK colleagues wonder if Wireless is now seen by Brooks as her stepping stone to the top job as Sky itself”. Not any more.
Away from Murdoch’s control, no-one with brain plugged in and a hole in their arse would let Rebekah Brooks anywhere near the Sky CEO job. After all, it would require her to actually put in a full day’s work, instead of spending most of it yacking into her iPhone in an attempt to maintain her networking skills. And it would require some management skills too, instead of periodically emerging from her office to slag off subordinates.
Worse, with Murdoch’s cash cow wrested from his control, what chance is there of money being pumped into a loss-making press operation (the Sun has been losing money for years now, not helped by all those phone hacking payouts)?
The highest profile casualty of Comcast bagging Sky is not Rupert Murdoch, but teacher’s pet Rebekah Brooks. It couldn’t happen to a more unpleasant person.
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