Murdoch Blames Culture of Failure as TV Bid and ITV Digital Aid Ruled Out

05 November 2001

Attacking British media culture, Rupert Murdoch ruled out his takeover of a terrestrial TV broadcaster or help for ITV Digital, the struggling dTV platform that is the major rival to his satellite service Sky Digital.

The media mogul said the culture of failure permeating Britain’s media scene had convinced him not to go through with speculated bids for broadcasters such as Channel 5 or Carlton Communications, the latter a part of the ITV network.

“If we were to take over Channel 5 or Carlton and we happened to make a great success of it, all we would be doing is getting more abuse,” he said. “This is not a country that encourages success.”

Murdoch also revealed he would be “happy” to aid ITV Digital, were it not for fear of a regulatory backlash [though some observers note that Murdoch, chairman of a satellite monopoly in BSkyB, has not been afraid to risk regulators’ ire in the past].

“We would be happy to help them, but I think it would be difficult to do it in a way that passes muster with regulators and public opinion,” he commented. However, his apparent altruism is tempered with self-interest: “If [ITV Digital] disappeared, we would get blamed for it and the regulators would make life even more difficult for us.”

BSkyB, originally a member of the founding ITV Digital consortium, was forced to relinquish its stake by media watchdogs. Murdoch went on to attack current owners Granada Media and Carlton Communications for looking to the government for help and using poor technology in set-top boxes.

“We would have made it a success because we would have put in a proper technology. The people who run it are from an old monopoly or duopoly, and rather than compete they spend their time lobbying the government for help.”

BSkyB is currently under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading for anti-competitive activities, though Murdoch stressed he was confident the company would be cleared.

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