LONDON: Those with long memories will find it richly ironic that Rupert Murdoch's younger son James, addressing the UK Internet Advertising Bureau's annual conference, told a questioner that if the mooted merger between ITV and NTL goes ahead it will trigger a need to "look at how it changes the competitive landscape".
Ironic, say the greybeards, because the Murdoch family is arguably the least qualified to air concerns about media competition. Among many instances of the clan's renowned dedication to full and free competition, they recall the events of November 1990.
In those dim and distant days Rupert Murdoch's UK satellite operation Sky Television savagely undercut its sole competitor British Satellite Broadcasting, bringing the latter to its knees and into a forced merger.
Since when the resultant hybrid, British Sky Broadcasting, has enjoyed an immensely profitable sole operator status in the UK satellite TV market.
Candidates have been told of the suspension pending the outcome of merger talks with NTL. However, an ITV spokesman denies the ceo selection procedure has been put on hold. "The process continues and is progressing well," it insists.
And to add a piquant touch to the saga, it was revealed Monday that NTL too is engaged in seeking a helmsman to steer both companies if a merger is agreed.
According to newspaper reports, its senior brass have been romancing former BBC and Channel 4 highflier Michael Jackson, currently serving time stateside as president of programming at InterActiveCorp.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff