British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) Chief Executive James Murdoch today launched a withering attack on the British broadcasting industry and the BBC in particular, describing its Web business model as verging on megalomania. In a speech in London hosted by media regulator Ofcom, Murdoch also appealed for less regulation and a free market, which he said was not currently the case in the industry.
“The triumph of the free market surely indicates that broadcasting should be more like other industries,” he said. “In recent years, the direction has been absolutely clear: the private sector does more and the state does less. Not in the case of broadcasting, at least in the UK. Indeed, the UK’s main state broadcasting agency [sic], the BBC, famously fantasizes about creating a ‘British Google’ - and wants the taxpayer to fund it. This is not public service; it’s megalomania.”
Murdoch said it was perhaps no coincidence that the BBC had managed to avoid any meaningful oversight by “concocting a governance fudge that Thornton’s (a UK confectionary chain) would be proud of”.
Mr Murdoch also took the opportunity to refute rumours suggesting that BSkyB, which recently bought a 17.9 per cent stake in ITV, was behind the decision of BBC Chairman Michael Grade to leave the Corporation to become ITV’s Executive Chairman.
Andy Sennitt comments: We will probably never know for sure, but I think it’s very likely that, while BSkyB didn’t directly influence Grade’s decision to move to ITV, the fact that the satellite broadcaster had just invested almost £1 billion in ITV may have been the one factor that finally swayed him to put pen to paper, after initially rejecting an offer to move. There are other factors too, which are outlined in my commentary Getting the right Grade on the Radio Netherlands website.