Sky adds TV subscribers as bid battle intensifies

21st Century Fox bid £11.4 billion for the part of Sky it is yet to own nearly 18 months ago. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Sky adds TV subscribers as bid battle intensifies

LONDON: Sky, the pan-European TV giant, said Thursday that it had added 38,000 customers in its third quarter as a takeover battle for the group intensified.
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is hoping to buy the 61 percent of Sky it does not own but the long-running battle has been held up by competition concerns over media plurality and broadcasting standards in Britain.
Amid the delay, US cable giant Comcast has offered more than £22 billion for all of Sky, trumping Fox’s bid on a price-per-share basis.
In a further twist, Disney is hoping to buy Fox for $52.4 billion — a deal that would see British government concerns over Murdoch’s far-reaching media control in Britain fall away.
Awaiting developments in the takeover saga, Sky on Thursday added that its revenue climbed 5.0 percent to £10.14 billion in the first nine months of its 2017-18 financial year that runs to the end of June.
“In media terms, Sky is currently the belle of the ball, attracting overseas suitors aplenty. This update is another vindication of the interest being shown,” noted Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.
Earlier this month, 21st Century Fox proposed selling rolling TV channel Sky News to Disney in order to finally seal control of Sky.
Nearly 18 months ago, 21st Century Fox bid £11.4 billion for the part of Sky it is yet to own.
The Fox bid, pitched at £10.75 per Sky share, is significantly lower than the Comcast offer of £12.50.
But earlier this year, Britain’s Competitions and Markets Authority provisionally ruled that Murdoch’s planned takeover was not in the public interest and that a deal would hand him too much power in swaying public opinion.
Murdoch owns also major British newspaper titles The Times and The Sun.
To counter the regulatory obstacle, 21st Century Fox has proposed to sell Sky News to Disney even if the latter does not buy Fox.
Another option put up by Fox is to ring-fence Sky News.


Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

Updated 16 October 2018
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Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

RIYADH: Unusual activity has been observed on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Twitter account since his disappearance on Oct. 2 — with a total of 163 old tweets having been deleted.
This has raised questions about the identity of the person managing Khashoggi’s Twitter account — and whether it is his alleged fiancée Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. It was reported that all of Khashoggi’s cellphones are in her possession; yet Khashoggi’s ex-wife, Alaa Nassif, has said neither she nor Khashoggi’s family had any knowledge of Khadija.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, he had not followed anyone new and the number of the accounts he followed was 778, according to the analytics tool SocialBlade.

After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggie tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”
After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggi tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”


That day, an additional 20 tweets were posted on Khashoggi’s account. Yet between Oct. 3 and Oct. 15, a total of 163 tweets were deleted — including 90 tweets on Oct. 4 alone. The number of accounts followed by Khashoggi also dropped by five during the same period — although it is not clear whether these accounts were deliberately unfollowed.

Rogue killers: Read US President Donald Trump’s latest comments on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

A Saudi Twitter user named Trad Al-Asmari has also monitored Khashoggi’s account and posted the findings online.
Questions have been raised over the kind of tweets being deleted from Khashoggi’s account, given the controversial nature of some of his posts, in which he had expressed views that could have been deemed sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

In another tweet, Khashoggi apparently aimed to justify Daesh’s tactic of beheading people.


Lebanese political activist Nidal Sabeh said in a tweet about the activity on Khashoggi’s account:
“The person managing the Twitter account of Jamal Khashoggi has removed me from his friends list. His account has been recently very active, deleting several tweets and unfollowing accounts Jamal used to follow. I have no idea what could be the purpose of this act, but it certainly is noticeable.”