Murdoch's digital bust-up escalates

Partners in Rupert Murdoch's digital alliance launched a war of words yesterday, fuelling expectations that the four-way deal to launch digital TV on the Continent was doomed.

Sources at BSkyB, 40 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch, reacted angrily to suggestions that the alliance with Bertelsmann, Canal Plus and Havas had already failed, but none the less blamed Bertelsmann for the rising tensions.

"We know how to deliver, and they only know how to deal in political palaver," said a Sky source, referring to BSkyB's record as a pay-TV broadcaster in the UK and growing fears at Sky that Bertelsmann is dragging its feet on introduction of a digital bouquet of programming in Germany by autumn.

A spokesman for Bertelsmann responded in kind, saying: "BSkyB started this whole mess, not us," referring to a letter sent early this week by Mr Murdoch demanding clarification of Bertelsmann's intentions toward the alliance. That letter fuelled reports about growing tensions.

The harsh climate dates from Bertelsmann's surprise decision early this year to merge its television interests with CLT, the Luxembourg-based media company, which plans to launch a French pay-TV operation in direct competition with its alliance partner Canal Plus.

That deal seemed to go against the rationale of the four-way alliance, which had been aimed at developing digital TV in Germany and elsewhere without jeopardising each partner's stranglehold on its home market.

Canal Plus also weighed in yesterday, complaining that Bertelsmann seemed "too quick to declare the alliance at an end," and warning that a collapse of the agreement could jeopardise other joint ventures between Bertelsmann and Canal Plus in Germany.

The threats to the alliance have complicated the competitive climate in Germany, where two rival systems - one backed by Bertelsmann and the other by the Bavarian media giant Leo Kirch - are vying to dominate the digital revolution.

BSkyB is interested in taking a 25 per cent stake in Premiere, jointly owned by Bertelsmann, Canal Plus and Mr Kirch. But a deal whereby Canal Plus and Bertelsmann would each sell a 12.5 per cent to BSkyB has so far been blocked by Mr Kirch.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Administration Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Ashdown Group: Solvency II Project Manager - 10 month contract - £800 p/d

£800 per day: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, global financial services co...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works