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James Murdoch says scale the key to Endemol and Shine merger

James Murdoch says scale the key to Endemol and Shine merger
Tim Dams
14 October 2014

Mipcom: James Murdoch, co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox, set out his thinking behind the merger of Endemol, Shine and Core at a keynote address at Mipcom on Monday.

Murdoch, whose job covers television interests including Fox in the US to BSkyB in the UK and STAR India, said that the need for scale in the production sector was a key driver behind the deal. 

“We felt that the opportunity to create something that was really the global leader in terms of scale was something that shouldn’t be passed up. We want to create something that can be a larger platform for them, a larger canvas, if you will.”

He stressed, however, that it was important to keep the identity and culture of the individual production entities that are part of the Shine and Endemol group.

“You can’t over-synergise in these businesses. You have to allow people to run their own show, to run their own shop if you will.”

He added that the merger would make it easier for producers to distribute their shows around the world and for them to access global markets. “In terms of distribution, how commercially you go after the world, that’s where there are benefits.”

21st Century Fox and private equity outfit Apollo Global Management will each own 50% of the merged companies, which will be run by former Sky executive Sophie Turner Laing.  The terms of the long planned merger were finally agreed last week.

Murdoch said of 21st Century Fox: “The business at the end of the day is really a digital video business. 

Looking forward, Murdoch said the technology that he was most excited about was the Oculus Rift virtual reality technology. “There’s a class of storytelling that’s benefiting from this technology, and the trajectory is towards immersion, towards entertainments that are indistinguishable from reality. We are on that path. It will not be appropriate for every type of storytelling.. but for certain types of storytelling it will be the most extraordinary experience… and it’s not science fiction.”


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