British Sky Broadcasting has passed its long-term target of 10m subscribers this month, its chief executive said, as he deflected suggestions that he could leave the company if News Corp takes complete control of it.
Jeremy Darroch said BSkyB faces a period of opportunity and growth regardless of whether News Corp takes it private.
In his first interview since Rupert Murdoch’s group proposed buying 100 per cent of BSkyB last June, Mr Darroch brushed aside reports that he might not stay if the deal went ahead: “That’s news to me,” he told the Financial Times.
“I’m very happy here and will stay focused on that.”
Mr Darroch said he and his management team were dedicated to running the business according to a well-established strategy and would “not allow our heads to be turned” by controversy over the bid.
Asked how he personally felt about the prospect of working for News Corp as a wholly-owned subsidiary, Mr Darroch, 47, said: “I’m only focused on Sky. I’m just going to focus on what I’m doing and doing this business. There may be some point in the future where it’s appropriate to think about that; that’s not now.”
News Corp’s 700p-a-share bid for the 60.1 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own, valuing the satellite broadcaster at £12.3bn, was rejected by independent directors who said they would accept no less than 800p. The two sides said they would try to agree on a price only after co-operating to satisfy any regulatory obstacles.
The regulatory process began on Friday when broadcast regulator Ofcom issued a consultation document seeking views on whether the proposed deal would reduce the diversity of media in the UK.
Mr Darroch said the company had passed its target of 10m subscribers, established in August 2004, with two months to spare.
He said the target had been set up as a “clarion call” to the company and a “big statement of intent”. But he said future targets would be internal ones, including keeping customer defections below 10 per cent and increasing revenue per customer.
He also appealed for Ofcom and commentators considering News Corp’s proposed bid not to conflate concerns about media diversity with strict interpretation of competition rules.
“In reality, much of the noise so far has focused on alleged harm to competition. If there are any substantive concerns in that respect, they should be dealt with by the relevant competition authorities.”
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