Barry Diller is back in business with his old boss Rupert Murdoch.
Diller’s QVC Network Inc. announced it has a tentative agreement to create a 24-hour shopping program for the United Kingdom and Europe with BSkyB, the pay-TV satellite service owned by Murdoch’s News Corp. Ltd.
“I’m genuinely happy to be able to reunite in an association with Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp.,” said Diller, QVC’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “I think Britain is a market with fast and great potential.”
Murdoch added: “We are amazed at the growth of direct selling by television and think this will add a new dimension to BSkyB. We’re delighted that Barry Diller will be leading this venture.”
Wall St. impressed
Wall St. was impressed with the move, which was detailed at the National Cable Television Assn. convention in San Francisco.
“It’s really good news for them,” said Jessica Reif, a media analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. “It’s clear that QVC is a worldwide service and that BSkyB is the gateway to Europe.”
British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, is partly owned by the News Corp. empire, which also includes Fox Inc., where Diller was chairman and CEO until February, 1992. BSkyB has four million subscribers. QVC, which is headquartered in West Chester, Pa., reaches 44 million cable subscribers in the U.S.
Sam Chisholm, CEO of BSkyB, said “electronic retailing is an established and hugely successful business in other parts of the world. QVC is the largest shopping channel in the U.S., and our partnership underlies our promise to bring our subscribers the best available services.”
Oct. 1 target date
The new service, which will be produced live from London, will be distributed via cable and satellite, and is expected to start up Oct. 1. The announcement is the second international foray Diller’s made since coming aboard last December. In April, QVC and Grupo Televisa SA formed a joint venture to produce Spanish-language home shopping programming for Mexico, Spain and Latin America, and Portuguese-programming for Portugal and Brazil.