Murdoch’s Fox seeks to win bid approval by extending Sky News guarantee

The takeover is being closely watched in the US where Murdoch has agreed to sell a string of assets to the Walt Disney company, including Sky, for $52.4 billion. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Murdoch’s Fox seeks to win bid approval by extending Sky News guarantee

LONDON: Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox has strengthened its offer to protect the independence of Sky’s loss-making news channel to try to overcome regulatory concerns about Fox’s takeover of the parent company.
Britain’s competition regulator has said Fox’s $15.7 billion deal to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not already own should be blocked unless a way is found to reduce the influence Murdoch could wield through the ownership of Sky News.
The objections marked the latest twist in Murdoch’s eight-year battle to take control of Europe’s leading pay-TV company, forcing Fox to come back with more and more concessions to try to allay concerns about the deal and win regulatory approval.
The takeover is being closely watched in the US where Murdoch has agreed to sell a string of assets to the Walt Disney company, including Sky, for $52.4 billion.
Last week, Fox pledged to maintain and fund a fully independent Sky-branded news service for five years, and on Tuesday it upped this offer to run for 10 years.
It had already proposed to establish a fully independent board to oversee the 24-hour news network, including the appointment of its head, who will have sole responsibility for editorial strategy and staffing.
It said on Tuesday the Sky News board would now be required to prepare an annual statement confirming it had not come under any influence or attempted influence in the way it creates its editorial output.
“21CF (Fox) is willing to offer the revised undertakings” to address the objections raised by the regulator, Fox’s lawyers Allen & Overy said in a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority.


Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 19 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

  • Broadcast of political messages in coverage forbidden, analyst confirms.
  • Saudi football federation urges FIFA to sanction the Doha-owned channel.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has a justified case in complaining to FIFA over the “politicization” of the World Cup by the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, a prominent TV analyst has said.
A flurry of comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to complain to FIFA this week, saying the broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
In its complaint, the federation called on FIFA to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
One BeIN commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while a Doha-based international footballer invited on the channel was allowed to call for an end to the year-long boycott of Qatar by neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal TV research analyst at IHS Markit Technology, said that politicized coverage was expressly forbidden by world football’s governing body as well as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“FIFA and UEFA forbid the transmission of political messages during football matches for which they control the rights. It’s not only comments by the broadcasters — but even banners; everything (political) is forbidden,” the analyst told Arab News.
“So messages about Palestine, about political things, are not allowed.”
Papavassilopoulos said that if there is evidence of such cases, authorities in the Kingdom would be justified in taking the matter to FIFA.
“If there are video clips that show BeIN media personnel speaking against Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a case,” he said.
But whether FIFA will take any action against BeIN is another matter. Papavassilopoulos pointed to the fact that BeIN is a valued client of FIFA — it bought the rights to host the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa — and that Qatar plans to host the tournament in 2022.
“BeIN media is a very good client for FIFA. And don’t forget that Qatar is the country that will host the 2022 World Cup,” he said. “It’s going to be very very hard for FIFA to impose penalties on BeIN media knowing that Qatar will hold the next World Cup.”
Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.