Murdoch praises UK public-service TV as he 'sells' Sky takeover

James Murdoch has praised Britain's public service broadcasting output and record of "impartial news" but warned of a fast-changing, super-competitive global market as he sold the virtues of his planned acquisition of Sky.

Murdoch: emollient tone
Murdoch: emollient tone

Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, struck an emollient tone as his company seeks regulatory approval for his £11.7bn purchase of the 61% of Sky that Fox does not already own.

Murdoch said the BBC and Channel 4 played an important role in a "balanced creative economy" in the UK. while he suggested Sky would do better if it became part of Fox because all media companies faced "fresh rivals every day".

While Murdoch did not name Google, Facebook, Netflix and others, he suggested these "new entrants" posed "real risks".

Becoming part of Fox "ensures the Sky business can compete" with this "competitor set" that is "fundamentally more global", Murdoch said in a speech at this afternoon's Enders Analysis/Deloitte conference on media.

David Abraham, who interviewed Murdoch on stage after he spoke, suggested the Fox chief executive had adopted "a very different" tone from his MacTaggart Lecture to the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2010 when he had been critical of the BBC.

However, Murdoch recalled his 2010 speech had been "pretty warm".

He insisted Sky News would not become more like Fox News after any sale to Fox, declaring he was "very proud" of Sky’s news service.

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