Murdoch: NTL-ITV merger wouldn't affect Sky

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LONDON -- BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch on Wednesday downplayed any impact the proposed $9.6 billion tie-up between NTL and ITV might have on the satcaster, questioning the strategic merits of the deal as well as NTL's ability to execute it.

Speaking at an investor conference hosted by Morgan Stanley in Barcelona, Spain, Murdoch said that the deal would likely not significantly affect Sky's television and broadband businesses.

"I don't think there is much of an impact. None of the things NTL is missing is in ITV and none of the things ITV is missing is in NTL," Murdoch said. "This doesn't seem to be a set of solutions for either side."

NTL indicated last week that it was interested in linking its cable channel businesses with ITV and its chairman, Jim Mooney, is meeting with ITV board executives before the end of the week.

"In the short term, it's just a huge operational distraction," Murdoch said, pointing out that NTL already is busy trying to execute several other acquisitions, including that of Virgin Mobile.

NTL and ITV disclosed last week that they are holding talks over a deal of unspecified structure. Analysts have been sceptical about the benefits of a deal but say NTL could partially finance the process through its tax losses.
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