Were it not for the Murdoch family’s 39.1% stake in UK subscription company Sky Plc, James Murdoch would have been tossed out at Sky’s AGM overnight in London.

A narrow majority of non-family shareholders rejected James Murdoch’s chairmanship of the broadcaster. James Murdoch was re-elected with an overall vote of 71.5% — but take away the family’s stake, held via the 21st Century Fox stake, and it would have been an embarrassing slap at the continuing control by the Murdochs, as 50.9% of non-family shareholders voted against him. He was re-appointed as chair of Sky only in January of this year after a five-year absence caused by him fleeing the UK in the wake of the eruption of the New of the World-phone-hacking scandal.

The Sky rebellion came amid another round of speculation that Fox is preparing to launch a new attempt to take full control of Sky UK, whose shares have fallen 20%. The Murdoch clan abandoned a bid to take full control of the broadcaster in 2011 during the height of the News of the World scandal.

Closer to home, The Australian reports this morning that News Corp is within striking distance of taking full ownership of Sky News on Foxtel. The 24-hour news channel is currently owned by the Seven and Nine networks, as well as the UK’s Sky Plc. The Oz reports that News Corp intends to shortly announce its full ownership of the news channel, which it has secured for about $20 million. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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