Those of you following the Murdoch saga will recall there was recently a "hoist with his own petard" moment when a journalist taped him addressing his News International staff in London. He appeared to directly contradict the evidence he gave to the Commons Select Committee looking into the interception of cellphone messages (the number of victims of this intrusion is now in the thousands).
Now Channel 4 News has obtained copies of letters he has sent to two members of the committee after they demanded to know about the discrepancy. C4 has published .pdf copies of the letters on line. They are to John Whittingdale and the Committee chair Kieth Vaz.
Two further blows hit the Murdoch empire today which may well affect profits from News Corps' Sky satellite television operation in the UK.
The first is a decision by the European Court of Justice (which is part of the EU structure and should not be confused with the Court of Human Rights which is part of the wider Council of Europea structure). The Court confirmed a lower chamber decision that two soccer bodies, Fifa and EUFA must sell UK live broadcasting rights for certain tournaments to a broadcaster who will air them free and on terrestrial. These are part of lists of so-called "crown jewels" which are considered of such cultural significance to the country that they must either be aired free to air live or highlights broadcast free later. The first group includes such events as the Olympic games and the soccer World Cup and European Championships.
Obviously this restricts the amount of money a broadcaster can afford to pay for those rights. Commercial stations are dependent on advertising and the BBC is dependent on income from TV licence payers. They do not have the option of subscription income or "pay per view". In turn that limits the cash Fifa and EUFA get from the broadcaster.
Murdoch's business model for Sky depends on subscription and heavily on its live league soccer coverage. That was already being challenged by BT which is to have an IPTV and satellite delivered Sports Channel showing matches that start around noon. Another tranche start around 3pm and those games are still on Sky. BT fiber broadband customers can get a "YouView" hybrid PVR/IPTV box with these football games free for little more than the cost of the broadband and telephone service alone. The court decision means Murdoch cannot blackmail soccer fans who want to watch these international games live into paying the equivalent of $33 a month for a sports "package" of five channels which includes many other sports like cycling that they.
The second blow is the announcement that the meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers will have a report recommending changes to the rules about "offshoring" profits. Although Amazon, Starbuck and Google have been prominent in the outrage about their almost nil tax payments to the UK economy, Sky also has taken similar steps to avoid taxes by collecting the subscriptions from their UK customers using an Irish subsidiary.
As I write the weather in London is hot and sunny with not a cloud in the sky - except for Sky.