The City Diary

Deal or no deal? Will Rupert Murdoch's face fit in social networking
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He already owns and now it looks like media mogul Rupert Murdoch wants to infiltrate the social-networking upstart Facebook. It has been reported that he wants to set up an official Sky-branded group on the site to promote the broadcaster's services. But for some strange reason the idea has not gone down well among some loyal and devoted facebookers. At the time of going to press, some 82 members had signed petitions against the move by the Australian-born US citizen. But if Mr Murdoch gets too down about being unpopular, two groups of facebookers are convinced that arch rival Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson and jumper-wearing 'Deal or No Deal' presenter Noel Edmonds are the same person...

Could Allen go for gold?

It has been almost a year since 50-year-old Charles Allen announced he was giving up the ITV chief executive's job, just before Michael Grade's surprise move to the broadcaster from the BBC. By all accounts he has been enjoying his time off by relaxing abroad and not thinking about meeja-land. But isn't it about time Charlie made a reappearance? The whisper in City circles is that he might be in line for a job with the 2012 Olympics team. He did, after all, chair the successful 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and is available to take on a new challenge. Remember, you heard it here first.

When Moore is less

His films have taken on the gun lobby, the arms industry and big oil - now this week Big Pharma gets the Michael Moore treatment. On Friday, his film 'Sicko' opens at cinemas in the US. In it, he lambasts the US private healthcare system. Ken Johnston from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America hasn't seen the movie but he gets the gist. "Can we find ways to improve America's healthcare system? Absolutely. But biased, one-sided attacks will not advance that cause," he says.

Newspaper heavyweights

As if newspapers were not already reeling from Tony Blair's "feral beasts" attack, independent Labour peer Lord Stoddart has now asked the Government "whether they will open discussions with newspaper proprietors to introduce a charge for newspaper supplements in order to reduce the weight and volume of domestic refuse". Ouch! That would hurt 'The Sunday Times', though this paper would come out with quite a clean nose. HMG replied saying it wouldn't be squeezing the papers this time round, preferring to coax them towards the recycling bins instead.

On second thoughts...

A bit of a blooper from Barclays Capital. It recently sent a large number of its clients an email asking for feedback as to why they had closed their account. Unfortunately for BarCap, the missive was sent in error. The bank was forced to issue a follow-up email to clarify matters. It said: "Although the email referred to you closing your account, please be assured this is not the case and your account has not been affected at all."

Brush-off for freesheet?

Is Richard Addis, the ex-editor of the 'Daily Express', launching a freesheet newspaper or not? Commuters who wade through discarded 'Metros' every day may wonder why the world needs another free paper, yet Addis has been trying to drum up support for his venture for months. But he looks to have failed to convince likely backers, including DMGT, the owner of the 'Daily Mail', of the merits of the enterprise.

Blackwatch: the latest in the tycoon's trial

The trial of former media tycoon Lord Black is nearing its conclusion. Last week, both sides made their closing remarks. Assistant US attorney Julie Ruder told jurors that Lord Black and his associates stole millions of dollars from shareholders. "They created a phoney paper trail," she said. "It is time to expose this cover story for the lie that it is." Lord Black's team urged the jury not to be prejudiced by prosecution tales of his opulent lifestyle. Edward Greenspan, a defence lawyer, said: "Conrad is different than you and me. He is a rich man. But in America, you do not convict someone for being rich." Mr Greenspan sought to discredit the testimony of Lord Black's former business partner, David Radler, as the words of a "serial liar". The jury could begin deliberations this week.

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