The battle for US satellite broadcaster DirecTV, as yet far from won by Rupert Murdoch [WAMN: 13-Aug-01], could culminate in a central role for Briton, Tony Ball – or so speculates the usually well-informed Financial Times.

Ball, currently chief executive of BSkyB, the European satellite broadcaster controlled by Murdoch's News Corporation, is credited with notable success in building Sky’s digital subscriber base to 5.5 million as well as the profitable development of interactive services.

According to insiders, Ball has been involved in NewsCorp discussions relating to DirecTV, prompting conjecture that he is cast to return to the US where he formerly played a key role in Murdoch’s Fox empire. Ball has hinted at his interest in DirecTV, signalling that he would like to replicate his success at BSkyB.

Meantime, the year-long negotiations with GEC/Hughes, owner of DirecTV, continue to lumber towards a conclusion which, although far from clear, has been claimed by NewsCorp as imminent for several months.

News source: Financial Times