The announcement that Mr MacKenzie was to part ways with Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Sun and BSkyB, was sudden and terse. Mr Murdoch thanked Mr MacKenzie for his contribution, particularly his 12 years editing the Sun, and said he counted him a friend. Mr MacKenzie said he had fond memories of the company but was resigning after a 'personality clash'.
The resignation followed a bitter battle between Mr MacKenzie and BSkyB executives over the style and content of programmes and news coverage. Mr MacKenzie's mission, it is claimed, was to put the Sun into BSkyB and Sky News; with more kiss-and-tell tales than foreign news.
Last night a BSkyB journalist said: 'The flags will be out. Mr MacKenzie may have known about tabloid newspapers but he knew nothing about television. He came in all guns blazing and would not take the time to learn.'
The transfer to BSkyB always looked doubtful. The former tabloid king had described television people as a 'bunch of parasitical pansies'. The resignation three months ago of the news editor Ian Frykberg, highly regarded by Mr Murdoch and Sam Chisholm, chief executive, is said to have been a turning point.
Mr Frykberg apparently resigned bacause prime time was being devoted to an interview with the Harkess family, who had flown in from South Africa to denounce the former minister Alan Clark. Insiders say the 'personality clash' referred to by Mr MacKenzie was reportedly with Mr Chisholm.
The newspaper industry is unlikely to allow the man who brought us such Sun headlines as 'Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster', 'Paddy Pants Down', 'Gotcha]' and 'Up Yours Delors' to remain idle for long.
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