Major hints at challenge to BSkyB sports
Screen scrap: Murdoch's increasing dominance of key events may be target for new legislation
Saturday 06 January 1996
Rupert Murdoch's dominance of televised sports may become the target of new legislation, John Major, the Prime Minister, hinted yesterday.
The news sent shares in BSkyB, Mr Murdoch's 40 per cent-owned satellite broadcaster, down 7p to 413p, amid growing concerns that his lucrative near-monopoly might come under direct attack.
In his first public comment on the controversial issue of sport rights, Mr Major said the Government was considering ways of further protecting the handful of top sporting events that are still broadcast on terrestrial television.
"This is an interesting debate," Mr Major told BBC's Breakfast News, "and it is one that is under consideration at the moment, but no conclusions have been reached."
To date, both leading parties have shied away from criticising Mr Murdoch, whose stable of newspapers has been influential during election campaigns.
BSkyB has secured the rights to all Premier League Football matches, Rugby League and a share of the Football League. Under current legislation, a handful of events cannot be broadcast exclusively on a pay-per-view basis. These include the FA Cup Final and certain Wimbledon tennis matches. However, the current rules do not prevent the listed events from being broadcast on pay-TV - for instance, BSkyB's Sky Sports network, which is available on a subscription basis only via satellite or cable.
Last year, several media companies lobbied the Government to include firmer protection of listed events in the new Broadcasting Bill, which will receive a second reading in the House of Lords in two weeks. However, the draft version of the legislation did not include any references to sport rights.
Mr Murdoch's dominance of sport is the target of an inquiry by the Office of Fair Trading, which is also reviewing the terms under which BSkyB makes its own channels available to the cable industry.
The BBC has also expressed privately its concern over Mr Murdoch's growing monopoly, although the public service broadcaster has teamed up with BSkyB to broadcast Match of the Day - highlights of Premier League matches.
New legislation on listed events would have to be balanced by other concerns, according to the Government. Few want to return to the days of a duopoly made up of the BBC and ITV, which served to limit the amount of money flowing to professional sports.
With the entry of Mr Murdoch's broadcasting service, the value of sport contracts has soared to record levels. Sky claims it has improved the coverage of sporting events.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
iJobs Money & Business
£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...