Murdoch's Sky closer to Australia TV tender win-report
CANBERRA Oct 17 (Reuters) - A consortium bidding for an Australian government contract to broadcast local television into Asia, and including Rupert Murdoch's part-owned Sky News, has moved closer to winning with officials backing the bid, a report said Monday.
An independent panel set up to decide the A$223 million ($230.1 million) Australia Network tender had unanimously backed Sky over incumbent ABC for a second time after the government reopened the tender and imposed a new "national interest" hurdle, The Australian newspaper said, without naming sources.
The extension of the tender in July coincided with the mobile phone hacking scandal sweeping over the Australian-born Murdoch's News Corp. empire in Britain and a row with Australia's Labor government over alleged political bias in reporting.
The Australian newspaper, owned by Murdoch, said the independent panel, made up of Treasury, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Communications department bureaucrats, had recommended the overseas service be taken from the public-funded ABC and awarded to Sky News.
The Sky News Australia bid was thought superior by the four-member panel because of the network's plans to establish special programming for services to China and the Middle East, the paper said.
Sky News Australia is a 24-hour cable and satellite news channel, with Murdoch owning a third through his stake in BSkyB, along with Australia's Seven West Media Ltd. and the private equity-owned Nine Entertainment Co.
A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy declined to comment, saying the tender process was still open.
Conroy, who will decide on the tender, can now ask for more information from the panel before taking the issue to Prime Minister Julia's Gillard's cabinet with his recommendation.
Conroy was earlier this year critical of News Corp's Australian arm, News Ltd, accusing it of biased treatment targeting the minority Labor government. News Ltd, which denied the allegations, controls 70 percent of Australia's newspaper readership market.($1 = 0.969 Australian Dollars)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this