French exclusive

Murdoch sez protectionism stymies deals

PARIS — Having just sealed an alliance with Germany’s Kirch PayTV (Daily Variety, Dec. 6), Rupert Murdoch Monday said that neighboring France’s protectionist stance caused him to rule that country out of his Euro plans.

“In France I was attacked in the National Assembly because I am a defender of economic competition,” Murdoch complained in an interview with the daily newspaper Le Figaro.

Vivendi, the French utility company that owns the French pay TV group Canal Plus, holds a 24% stake in Murdoch’s BSkyB.

But merger talks between BSkyB and Canal Plus, which is ahead in the scramble for Europe, were ditched earlier this year because of French insistence on managerial and shareholder control.

On Monday, Kirch announced that BSkyB has taken a 24% stake in Kirch’s pay TV operations.

Asserting that “some countries are clearly more welcoming than others,” Murdoch said: “At the moment, we have no specific plans in France. There is a political consensus that aims to protect all national media whatever the cost.”

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