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A classic move from the Murdoch family as they act to spoil the party for anyone else over the inevitable takeover of ITV in the UK.

NewsCorp is a company to be admired in many ways. Hugely successful and dominant in many parts of the world, the company has also made some very clever moves in the online marketplace through the purchase of broadband supplier Easynet in the UK and the social network MySpace.

However, the company is a farce. The Murdoch family has 34% shareholding but treats the company like a veritable fiefdom, with Murdoch appointing one son and then the other to key positions and walking all over the Board.

Worse still is the poison pill defence put in place by the firm to counter the 19% shareholding taken by John Malone of Liberty Media. This is despicable behaviour for a public company that works against both the public good and the company's own shareholder value.

This appalling for a public company, and maybe this quasi-protectionism is behind its success of NewsCorp. With a US listing it is a scandal that the SEC has not taken action on these two issues.
Yet NewsCorp feels happy to intervene as it likes in transactions that are peripheral to its operations in order to spoil them. It's amazing how far you can go by bending the rules in your favour whilst using them against others..

I'd like to believe that they'll come a cropper, especially after paying 15% over the going market rate, but I have a grudging feeling that this will simply take ITV out of play to highly leveraged organisations such as NTL and RTL.

But if you read the map and figure out what their plan is - synchronous communications, regulatory neutrality and control over content, Virgin Media are potentially well placed in a world where people are reading fewer newspapers, where an 8Mpbs connection can replace a satellite dish and where MySpace will soon begin its inevitable decline.

Still, NewsCorp is a short term buy, for appearing clever in a marketplace that's dumb and desperate.