Monthly Archives: January 2018

Sky-Fox Deal Not In Public Interest, Says Regulator

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The University of Huddersfield press office asked me to write something about the latest twist in the Fox takeover of Sky. It’s for the uni’s View From The North blog. This is the article in full.

ONE of the longest-running sagas in media has taken another turn, with Rupert Murdoch’s latest bid to take full control of Sky hitting a new setback.

The Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally ruled such a move would give the Murdoch family too much control over the UK’s media.

The Murdochs already own newspapers including The Sun and The Times, along with radio stations from talkSPORT to Bradford’s The Pulse.

They’ve got 39% of Sky too, but putting Sky News completely into their hands is proving to be the sticking point.

Since it launched in 1989, Sky News has established itself as a lively and valued competitor to the BBC, popular with politicians and viewers alike.

Broadcasting rules mean there’s no chance of it becoming a British version of the right-wing U.S. channel Fox News.

But even in its current form, Sky News has a big enough share of the TV and online news market to make regulators balk at allowing it to fully join a larger news empire.

One option would be to try to sell Sky News or spin it off as a completely separate company. But with the channel traditionally losing tens of millions of pounds each year, it’s tough to see anyone willing to take it on.

This inquiry is already being overtaken by events, though.

Rupert Murdoch sprung one of the biggest surprises of his long career last month by announcing he planned to sell most of his media assets – but not his cherished newspapers – to Disney.

The biggest threat to consumer choice might come from Disney deciding the cost of running such a loss-making news brand is an unnecessary distraction from its entertainment businesses.

Disney boss Bob Iger has already insisted that Sky News “absolutely” has a future. Viewers who routinely turn to it for breaking news will hope that’s true.

Journalism Technologies: 13. Disruption!

We’re into the second term of the academic year at the University of Huddersfield and the Journalism Technologies module resumed with the focus switching from the major online and social media platforms, to how media companies are adapting to the rapidly changing technologies which have turned their worlds upside down. Arguably the most significant impact has come on the balance sheet, with the old business models that funded journalism if not destroyed, then certainly coming under significant and sustained strain, and that was the subject of last week’s lecture.

First year university students, born at around the turn of the millennium, have grown up in the smartphone, on-demand, social media era, so I spent much of the lecture filling in a few of their blanks on how things were before. As I did, I was thinking to myself that newspaper classified ads, extended one-minute TV ads and local radio spots for double glazing all seem like media from decades ago. It’s so long since even I read, watched or heard one, trying to explain how significant they once were (and, in some cases, still are) to a room full of 18-year-olds is a bit of an odd thing to find yourself doing.

When having a go in the seminars at analysing the local newspaper’s website (ahead of a visit from the editor the week after next), this became even more clear. The ads were almost universally the bit everyone hated. Too prominent and too irrelevant, the students said, and that was just the verdict of the ones not routinely using ad blockers. When I covered this topic last year there was still some optimism that BuzzFeed’s extensive use of sponsored content might offer one way through the financial mire for under-pressure digital publishing executives. But its recent round of redundancies, and admission it is again seeking to diversify its business model yet further, suggests that making news pay is as tough now as it has ever been.