News Corp. business model hailed

British broadcasting minister lauds methods

LONDON — Blighty’s broadcasting minister has praised the role of News Corp. in modernizing the British TV industry even as U.K. regulators scrutinize the media conglom’s recently purchased stake in terrestrial web, ITV.

Britain’s Dept. of Trade and Industry is to rule by May 26 on whether to refer BSkyB’s 17.9% stake in ITV to an antitrust body, the Competitions Commission.

“What Sky did was to revolutionize and bring innovation to a broadcasting system where there were only four terrestrial channels,” Shaun Woodward, minister for creative industries and tourism, said at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch. “That was a considerable achievement, and you underestimate that at your peril.”

While Woodward declined to comment specifically on the satcaster’s stake in ITV, his glowing tribute to BSkyB is unlikely to go unnoticed by fellow pols.

“It would be irresponsible for me to prejudge the decision by the Dept. of Trade,” Woodward said. “It doesn’t surprise me that we are where we are. We live in a highly competitive age.”

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