Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

In shadow of Fox bid, James Murdoch re-elected Sky chairman

In shadow of Fox bid, James Murdoch re-elected Sky chairman

Shares in 21st Century Fox were flat at $25.50 in light-volume trading.

The Sky AGM came as the company reported strong first quarter results, with 161,000 new customers and a 5 percent uptick in revenue of £3.3 billion.

Revenues grew five percent to £3.3 billion ($4.4 billion, 3.7 billion euros) over the same period. The fantasy series is now the most-watched ever shown on Sky.

The pay package handed to Sky's chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, quadrupled to more than £16m in the year to the end of June, despite a hefty fall in annual profits at the broadcaster's United Kingdom and Ireland business.

The London-listed group has exclusive rights to U.S. broadcasting giant HBO´s television catalogue, which includes the current season of the award-winning show.

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Sharon White said that while the broadcasting and telecoms regulator had uncovered evidence of "extremely disturbing" behaviour at Fox News, which is owned by 21st Century Fox, it did not follow that Sky would not deserve a broadcasting licence following a takeover.

James Murdoch remains chairman of Sky despite a significant number of shareholders opposing his re-election.

One shareholder, who did not give his name, said to Murdoch: "I have the same problem with my dad".

Meanwhile, the takeover of Sky is being held up by a United Kingdom investigation into the proposed deal worth £11.7 billion.

Murdoch said at the Sky annual meeting that the companies were "engaged constructively with the regulatory authorities" about the deal.

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Culture Secretary Karen Bradley chose to disregard Ofcom's judgement that the deal should only be referred to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns about its impact on media plurality, additionally opting to refer the bid on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards.

The CMA will seek to prevent "anyone media owner, or voice, having too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda".

Sky also updated investors on the Fox bid process, noting that the offer was now being reviewed on public interest grounds by the CMA which has a statutory deadline of March 6 to send its report to the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who referred the deal for in-depth review.

Ms White said Sky "currently has a very strong record of compliance on broadcasting" and insisted there was no reason why the company would not maintain a commitment to United Kingdom broadcasting standards following a takeover.

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