Murdoch cancels Davos trip: organisers

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Media baron Rupert Murdoch has cancelled a trip to the annual gathering of the world's business and political elite in Davos, organisers said Wednesday, as his News Corp. firm fought for full control of broadcaster BSkyB.

"I confirm that Murdoch has cancelled," Matthias Luefkens, a spokesman for Davos conference organisers the World Economic Forum, told AFP.

According to the official programme, Murdoch was slated to attend the meeting but was not scheduled to make a public appearance.

Murdoch's son James, chief executive of NewsCorp's European and Asian operations, was due to speak on a panel about "mobile reality" with Vodafone head Vittorio Colao and Google boss Eric Schmidt.

Murdoch's News Corp. is embroiled in a battle to assume full control of BSkyB amid competition concerns in Britain.

On Tuesday, British authorities said they would give News Corp. more time to argue its case although Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that he was still likely to refer the case to Britain's Competition Commission.

News Corp. had in June bid £7.8 billion ($12.2 billion, 9.1 billion euros) for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not own.

European regulators have since cleared the controversial takeover but there is fierce opposition to the deal from a host of British broadcasters and newspapers, which fear a Murdoch monopoly.

BSkyB is a pay-TV satellite broadcaster that screens live English Premiership football matches, blockbuster movies and the Sky News channel.

Murdoch's group is also facing the fallout from phone hacking by reporters at one of his most profitable British newspapers, the News of the World.

The long-running scandal forced the paper's former editor, Andy Coulson, to resign as Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief last week, although Coulson denies any involvement.

British prosecutors are reviewing the investigation and have indicated they will accept new evidence.

Luefkens also confirmed that film star Robert de Niro had cancelled his attendance at this year's Davos meeting.

De Niro, in his role as co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York was due to attend a Davos session on "film's power to revitalise culture, economies and hope."

According to the official programme, he was also scheduled to participate in a prize-giving ceremony to "honour artists who have used their art to improve the state of the world."

© 2011 AFP

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