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Is the Sky falling for the Murdochs?


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

November 14, 2013 | 4 min read

There is one story this week that has me flabbergasted. The BSkyB share price story.

Is Rupert Murdoch's empire really on the wane?

Flabbergasted is not a word I use often, largely because my comprehensive schooling means that I struggle to spell it. That being said, when the time comes, we have to step up and try new things, something that seems to be lacking from the BSkyB comms team during the week of woe.

The Saturday morning news that BT had pulled the Champions League football rights from under Sky's feet had Murdoch haters ripping off their cardigans with delight, but there's barely been a word from the BSkyB PR team.

On Monday morning BSkyB’s share price plummeted, finally ending the day around 10 per cent down. No response from the BSkyB comms team.

From Monday onwards BSkyB has been getting an absolute pounding in the financial and analyst press, including early speculation that this could be the end of its dominance of the digital TV market. Still nothing from BSkyB PR.

What is going on?

BSkyB has one of the most talented and proven comms team in the industry. These are the people who have single-handedly got Sky TV to where it is today, the defacto choice for digital TV viewers. Could it really now be on the wane?

The truth is, I imagine there are some top-level briefings going on at senior editorial levels, especially among the Murdoch owned media, and I can only presume that a mountain of positive stories are being lined up.

A thorn in their side is the fact they have an AGM later in the month and some of the bigger shareholder groups are being encouraged to not vote James Murdoch back in.

Could the PR team be holding back, hoping that this shifts the story on to something new? To be honest, I would be surprised if so.

The comms team needs to get another big announcement out as soon as possible. Something that will boost the share price. Something like a big cost reduction, a new technology announcement or a senior-level departure or appointment.

One quick win that BSkyB could do would be to follow the direction of the BBC and reduce its 3D output. It is clear that demand for 3D is on the decline and the reality is that UK has not really gone for it.

By entirely shutting down its 3D offerings it would grab a large chunk of media attention, save money and most importantly, move the media focus elsewhere.

Failing that, it could cull a Murdoch off the board. Again, very risky given the potential City reaction, but it would certainly distract the media away from the current share price focus.

You can tell Andy Barr what you think of him – and his columns – on Twitter @10Yetis


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