James Murdoch takes a swipe at Ofcom

James Murdoch, the Sky chairman and senior News Corp executive, has accused Ofcom of regulating to protect a British broadcasting elite.

Murdoch, previously chief executive at Sky, was made head of News Corp for Europe and Asia, while succeeding his father Rupert as non-executive chairman of Sky, in December.

In a speech last night he cited parts of an Ofcom document which said media convergence could cause "varying degrees of confusion and anxiety". Ofcom would have to "intervene decisively to protect people from actual or potential harm whenever this proves necessary", it said.

"Let's be quite clear about this," said Murdoch. "The confusion and anxiety referred to is in the minds only of the elites who are terrified by people taking power from them. Nor is it the job of a regulator to invent sources of potential harm and forestall them...

"What they are really saying is that competition and innovation may result in an outcome different from the carefully constructed central planner's fantasy about how a market might work."

Current Ofcom work directly affecting Sky includes a review of the pay-TV market and a pending decision on whether to allow Picnic, the paid-for digital terrestrial service Sky wants to launch on digital terrestrial, to replace Sky's free-to-air Freeview channels.

Answering questions after the annual Marketing Society lecture, Murdoch also expressed wariness about the BBC's iPlayer on-demand service.

He called it a "big step, a pre-emptive intervention in a marketplace otherwise hugely competitive and moving very fast", and said it was "squashing a lot of competitors", according to MediaGuardian.