US skies open for Murdoch

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The Independent Online

Rupert Murdoch could soon achieve his long-cherished ambition of breaking into multichannel TV in the US.

The opportunity comes from SES Global, the Luxembourg-based company that operates the satellites used by BSkyB, the broadcaster 34 per cent owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corporation.

SES has applied to the US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, to operate a similar service there.

Last October, News Corp was thwarted in a bid for US satellite TV company DirecTV, which intends to merge with its US rival Echostar.

Both companies own the satellites and also market the product to consumers. However, in Europe, SES owns the satellites and leases the transmission capacity to companies such as BSkyB and Canal Plus. "We want to export this business model to the US," said a spokesperson for SES.

SES's service could increase the chances of the DirecTV-Echostar merger being approved by regulators, as it would increase competition in the marketplace.

Next week News Corp announces third-quarter results and is expected to write down up to $5bn (£3.4bn) on its investment in Gemstar, an interactive TV listings company.

News Corp is also said to be interested in buying the pay-TV business of the bankrupt German media group Kirch.