Green group withdraws bid for BSkyB climate campaign

LONDON (Reuters) - Environmental group Friends of the Earth said on Thursday it had withdrawn a controversial bid to become a charity partner of BSkyB, the UK broadcasting arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire.

Around half of the charity’s staff had signed a petition against the bid to partner Sky for a three-year campaign on climate change, the Guardian reported earlier this week.

Friends of the Earth said in a statement that the bid had been withdrawn “after fully exploring the opportunity and consulting with stakeholders”.

The charity added that it would have been difficult for it to match its own five-year planning processes with Sky’s timetable.

A spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth would not comment on whether the internal petition had prompted the withdrawal.

BSkyB said more than 160 groups keen on reaching 8.6 million British subscribers had applied to be the broadcaster’s preferred charity for the climate campaign.

It says the partnership could be worth the selected charity around 1 million pounds of cash and in kind.

Around 77 Friends of the Earth staff, including senior campaigners, signed the petition last month, citing concerns over Sky’s environmental record, according to the Guardian.

Friends of the Earth, however, said Sky had been taking positive steps to tackle climate change.

“A number of businesses are, Friends of the Earth believes, making genuine attempts to make their operations environmentally sustainable and to engage their consumer bases and it believes Sky is a good example of this,” the environmental group said in its statement.

Sky, which brands itself as “carbon neutral”, has recently raised its green profile and says that it uses 100 percent renewable energy at its sites in England.

The broadcaster said it was disappointed that the Friends of the Earth bid had been withdrawn.