Business Diary: 24/10/2009

Murdoch's board all look the same

James Murdoch was on good form at Sky's AGM yesterday, gently chiding one shareholder who asked why the broadcaster did not screen a more ethnically diverse range of shows. His answer, that "Sky is all about inclusiveness; we strive to do that", was only slightly undermined by the company's board, who were all sat behind him. It consisted of 13 white men and one white woman.

The mystery of the black horse

Ian Gordon, a banking analyst at Exane, sums up perfectly the situation at Lloyds Banking Group in a note pointing out that, depending on who you believe, the bank could come up with a massive jumbo rights issue as soon as this week, or do nothing at all for the next month. The truth, as Mr Gordon added in his briefing, is that nobody knows. Perhaps it's time the bank told us.

A rare (and shortlived) triumph for NatEx

Guess which train operator tops the tables in the latest survey from the Office of Rail Regulation. You got it: step forward National Express, taking the title of the most improved operator, thanks to a very impressive rise in punctuality on its East Coast Main Line franchise during the first three months of the year. It won't be in the tables next year, mind you, since the Government has since stripped the company of the contract.

BBC bosses have cancelled Christmas

More controversy at the BBC. The decision to invite Nick Griffin on to Question Time caused plenty of grief, with staff – like the wider public – split on the rights and wrongs of the issue. But scrapping the Christmas party allowance, a move that was announced internally this week, prompted a much more united response – of fury. Last year, the Beeb halved the allowance – which was once £50 per staff member – but has now abolished it altogether.

Number of the day: 0.2%

The average forecast for third-quarter GDP growth made by 33 economists on Thursday. The figure was -0.4 per cent.

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