Despite Murdoch furor, BSkyB says it is a 'fit and proper' broadcaster
LONDON -- British Sky Broadcasting insisted Wednesday that it remains a "fit and proper" holder of a broadcasting license in Britain, despite a damning parliamentary report on media baron Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns a controlling stake in the company.
In an earnings report, the lucrative satellite television service said it was cooperating with British regulator Ofcom as part of the agency's evaluation of whether BSkyB remains a suitable holder of a broadcasting license.
The company said its "positive contribution to U.K. audiences, employment and the broader economy, as well as its strong record of regulatory compliance and high standards of governance" qualified it to maintain its license.
The statement came a day after an excoriating report by a parliamentary committee branded Murdoch as "not fit" to run a major international company. The report accused three senior News Corp. executives of lying to the panel during its investigation into phone hacking by the News of the World.
Murdoch shut down the tabloid last summer at the height of public outrage over phone hacking, which now appears to have been common practice at the paper. The furor also forced Murdoch to abandon his bid to buy the 61% of BSkyB that News Corp. does not already own.
The head of BSkyB sought to put some distance between his company and Murdoch's on Wednesday.
"It's important to remember that Sky and News Corp. are separate companies," Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch told reporters. "We believe that Sky's track record as a broadcaster is the most important factor in determining our fitness to hold a license. And the evidence shows that Sky serves U.K. audiences and customers well."
BSkyB reported a 5% rise in revenue over the last nine months, compared with same period a year earlier. Its adjusted operating profit during that period exceeded $1.4 billion, a 15% increase.
-- Henry Chu
Photo: Media magnate Rupert Murdoch and son James attend a horse race in Britain in March 2010. Credit: Adrian Dennis / AFP/Getty Images