The battle between the Murdochs and Sir Richard Branson over ITV descended into a slanging match this afternoon. Sir Richard issue a bitter statement in which he said “the time has come for regulators, politicians and consumers to finally show that they’re willing to stand up to reckless and cynical attempts to stifle competition and secure creeping control of the British media.” BSkyB fired back with a statement of its own saying “Sir Richard seems to believe that he and his partners in NTL -Telewest have a unique right to acquire ITV,” and that “he would rather pay a lower price”.
Personally, I don’t see where Branson can go with this. The Murdochs have done nothing wrong that I can see, however inconvenient to Branson and however much bien pensant people may love to hate them. I shall be interviewing Will Whitehorn of Virgin on Jeff Randall’s Weekend Business show on Radio Five Live at 7pm tonight, so listen in.
We are also keeping on top of CSN’s proposed counterbid for Corus, and are looking for indications of how Tata will respond to having its own bid trumped. There were suggestions in the Indian press over the weekend that Tata executives had been in touch with Corus.
In other areas, we have some other very good stories already in the works, in financial services especially. But I can’t go into those yet, I’m afraid.
And although there was very little news worth following in the Sunday papers, on ITV or anything else, the Sunday Telegraph story that Foxtons plans to float is worth looking at. As we saw with Your Move last week, these businesses are worth a fortune. The Sunday Telegraph thinks it might be worth £400m. Good luck to them and their entrepreneurial founder: although people in London love to hate Foxtons and their silly minis, my own experience of them has been nothing but impressive.