News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, having rooted vigorously behind the scenes on behalf of his son James, emerged into the open on Monday to rah-rah it for nepotism at British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

"Nobody is more qualified to take over a multi-channel platform than James, with the exception of Charles Ergen of EchoStar but, of course Charlie isn't available," the chairman rold US financial weekly Barron's.

The timing of the interview is unlikely to be accidental, appearing on the newsstands as the selection process for BSkyB's new chief executive moves into its final phase in London. Admitted Murdoch: " I'm biased but James is the best I can see."

NewsCorp's chairman may be omnipotent in most respects - but seemingly not on this hot potato. Although NewsCorp controls 35.4% of BSkyB - the largest single shareholding - the rest of the stock is held by private and institutional investors, ten of the most powerful of whom believe the relatively inexperienced James (30) to be unsuitable for such a key position.

If push comes to shove it is likely they could collectively outgun the NewsCorp stake. The big question is whether Murdoch can win sufficient support from neutral Sky shareholders to force through the appointment of his offspring.

Meantime, EchoStar's Ergen is said to be surprised and a tad queasy at being on the receiving end of a compliment from his rival mogul. Rather like a kind word to Simon Magus from the Wizard of Oz.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff