Murdoch Backs Son James as BSkyB Chief

Article excerpt

RUPERT MURDOCH yesterday gave his first public backing to his son's bid to take over as chief executive of BSkyB, saying James was the "best" candidate for the job.

The only other executive Mr Murdoch, chairman and 34 per cent shareholder of BSkyB, will consider as equally qualified as his son is Charles Ergen, of rival US satellite television company, EchoStar.

Mr Ergen, a media entrepreneur and one of the US's wealthiest men, is a former sparring partner of Mr Murdoch's and originally beat him in the battle for the satellite giant DirecTV. He later had his bid overturned by competition authorities in the US and was forced to bow to a $4.1bn (pounds 2.4bn) takeover by Mr Murdoch's News Corp.

"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," Mr Murdoch said in an interview with the US investment magazine, Barron's, that was published yesterday. "I'm biased, but James is the best I can see."

James, 30, is currently head of News Corp's Asian satellite business Star, and his father yesterday pointed to his success in turning it into profit last year as a measure of his ability to take over at BSkyB.

His father's words of support follow those of Peter Chernin, chairman of News Corp, who has also spoken out in favour of the Murdoch succession to Tony Ball, who will step down as chief executive of BSkyB next month. …