News Of The World Scandal: How It Touches TV

Many, many words have been written about the News Of The World”s sudden demise. So we”ll keep to a couple of observations about how it is impacting on the TV business.

  • The big question is whether Rupert Murdoch”s News International will still be allowed to acquire a controlling stake in BSkyB. The government has referred the deal back to media regulator Ofcom to see if NI still passes the “fit and proper” person test. That has made stock markets nervous, wiping around £2 billion off the value of BSkyB. Questions are also being asked about how much Rupert Murdoch”s son James knew about the substantive issues behind the crisis.
  • The scandal provided the BBC”s news and analysis divisions with a ratings boost. Newsnight scored its highest rating of 2011 – around 1.3 million viewers. Question Time, which featured an appearance by actor Hugh Grant, did even better, recording a 3.6m audience – 1m up on the previous week.
  • Channel 4 has seen the crisis as an opportunity to revive a script which imagines the family power struggle that could take place after Rupert Murdoch’;s death. A single drama by Peep Show”s Jesse Armstrong, The Murdochs is based around a dinner party at which family members present their case for inheriting the old man”s media empire. The script was originally passed over by Kevin Lygo, who has since moved to a position at ITV.

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