Danny Rogers on PR: The fierce battle for BSkyB is far from over
Monday 07 March 2011
News Corp's bid to take control of BSkyB is a fierce communications, lobbying and legal battle taking place at the very highest level.
Driving the comms behind News Corp's bid has been its group director for strategy and corporate affairs, Matthew Anderson. The 45-year-old Californian, a former PR agency chief, has become established as James Murdoch's right-hand man, ably assisted on the media side by Alice Macandrew and company lawyers Allen & Overy.
News Corp does not retain PR consultants but can call on a formidable network of advisers close to "the family", not least Matthew Freud, who is married to Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth and has the most powerful network in London. The subject must come up at various dinner tables. All of the above are known to be close to key Conservative politicians, right up to David Cameron.
On the other side is the "anti" alliance of media companies such as Associated Newspapers, Guardian Media Group and Telegraph Media Group who oppose a more powerful News Corp. Efforts are co-ordinated by the PR firm Weber Shandwick's chairman for corporate comms and public affairs, Jon McLeod. He is a former financial and legal journalist and now a very powerful lobbyist.
To complicate things further, BSkyB itself has issues of corporate reputation and deal price to address. Here, the hugely influential Roland Rudd, who runs Finsbury PR, is heavily involved, reporting directly to Sky's board.
Although the takeover is being widely reported as a done deal, those close to negotiations still see it is a fifty/fifty battle. One of the "anti" alliance tells me "It's not over yet by a long way, the devil really can be found in the detail."
Danny Rogers is editor of PR Week
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