Murdoch poised to apply for BSkyB job

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The Independent Online

It is only a matter of time before James Murdoch applies for the chief executive job at BSkyB, according to sources close to him.

It is thought that three internal candidates have now applied for the job, following the announcement last month that the current chief executive, Tony Ball, is to step down. It is understood that Mr Murdoch, son of BSkyB's chairman Rupert, has not yet applied for the position but insiders said "it is only a matter of time" before he puts himself forward.

Mr Murdoch, who currently heads News Corp's Star TV operation in Asia, is the runaway favourite for the job, leading to fears among shareholders that he will be a "shoo-in" for the post. The controversy that has blown up around this prospect has not put him off, however.

One source said: "It is not very important that he [James Murdoch] has not applied. The door is not closing on the application period as yet. He's made no secret of the fact that he wants to be considered. His application is a formality."

Separately, it has emerged that Sky's chief operating officer, Richard Freudenstein and Jon Florsheim, the company's sales and marketing director, have applied for the post. Last week it became clear that Martin Stewart, Sky's finance director who is well-regarded in the City, had put in an application. It is thought that others within the wider News Corp empire, especially some of those at Fox, are weighing up whether to apply.

The source said that people within BSkyB and News Corp were being "encouraged to take a shot" and added that others stood a genuine chance of being selected. However, media industry figures suggested that people like Mr Stewart were being encouraged to apply in order to make the appointment process appear competitive, but they stood very little chance of actually getting the job.

"It's going to be James," one observer said. "It is helpful for others to apply. As long as everyone [else] is turned down, no one has lost out and you've done the company a good turn."

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