In shadow of Fox bid, James Murdoch re-elected Sky chairman

Rupert Murdoch is executive chairman of 21st Century Fox

A Sky spokeswoman said Mr Murdoch was "uniquely well-placed" to be chairman.

Shareholders took issue with Mr Murdoch, and with director pay at pay-TV company Sky's AGM on Wednesday.

James Murdoch was re-elected as Sky chairman by a slim majority of independent shareholders on Thursday, despite questions being raised about whether he can be neutral due to his role as chief executive at bidder Twenty-First Century Fox.

James Murdoch is poised to defend his position as Sky's chairman at its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.

A report released by Ofcom in June warned that the Murdoch family, which is behind the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers, would have "increased influence" over British media should the Fox-Sky deal go through.

They claimed that, because Fox is now trying to buy full control of Sky, he could not be a completely independent chairman of the latter.

Observers said that the result meant that slightly more than 50 percent of independent shareholders backed Murdoch, 44, this year, compared with last year when slightly more than 50 percent had not supported him.

The shareholder, Hugh Lawson, said: "I think the board lacks independence".

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley chose to disregard Ofcom's judgement that the deal should only be referred to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns about its impact on media plurality, additionally opting to refer the bid on the grounds of commitment to broadcasting standards. In late 2014, after BSkyB acquired Fox's Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, the bigger company changed its name to Sky.

"Are you confident that the CMA won't unearth new Fox scandals which derail the bid?", Alaphia Zoyab from activist group Avaaz asked.

Sharon White said that while the broadcasting and telecoms regulator had uncovered evidence of "extremely disturbing" behaviour at Fox News, which is owned by 21st Century Fox, it did not follow that Sky would not deserve a broadcasting licence following a takeover.

Like-for-like revenues during the three months to the end of September were £3.3bn, up 5.5% on the same period a year ago, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) rose by 11% to £582m.

"We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we've made come through", said group chief executive Jeremy Darroch. The company launched new streaming services in Spain and Switzerland in the quarter.

It reported that the first series of home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, becoming its highest ever rated Original commission and Game of Thrones became the most watched series ever on Sky.

Shares in 21st Century Fox were flat at $25.50 in light-volume trading.

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