Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch's secret battle with Downing Street

Simon McBurney as Rupert Murdoch in The Loudest Voice (Credit: Sky)

During these past 12 months Rupert Murdoch has been only half the man in the UK he used to be. But that’s only by one measure – Ofcom’s “share of references”, which calculates which news sources are consumed across different media. It was a year ago, in September 2018, that the then 87-year-old’s long association with Sky came to an end.

Book review: The Battle for Sky

Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen), DCI Bill Wong (Matt McCooey) and Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) in Sky One's Agatha Raisin (Credit: Sky)

Is it just me, or does this account of the relentless march of Sky feel less like a window into the “future of entertainment” and more the TV equivalent of ancient history?

There are glorious deeds and all-conquering heroes. Step forward Jeremy Darroch, and the man who appointed him CEO of Sky, James Murdoch. Not forgetting the tragic fate of doomed and misguided rivals: hold your heads in shame, Setanta and a host of others.

Comcast and Disney vie for the Murdoch empire

(Credit: AP)

However it ends, the battle royal for the right to own most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, and all of Sky, reflects deep and significant trends in global media. The resolution (in favour of suitors Disney, Comcast or both) may end up being less important than what the outcome tells us about market dynamics.

This battle is about the response of legacy media to accelerating shifts in consumer behaviour and to the threats posed by the big digital disruptors. In a market where content and distribution are increasingly intermingled and global, size unlocks the prize.