Murdoch’s inside job

by peterjukes

Oliver Kömmerling became a surprise witness for Canal Plus. Adams lost his job, and in the process the hard drive of his laptop, with thousands of revealing emails, was reported stolen.

Only days before, OnDigital, the fledgling pay TV rival to BSkyB in Britain which used the widely pirated Seca card, had collapsed owing £1 billion.

In 2000, DirecTV had sued NDS for piracy-related behaviour, but the case was settled. DirecTV insisted Tarnovsky had no further contact with its smartcards.

It now sought to reopen the case in light of the Canal Plus allegations, citing actions by Kömmerling. A US Attorney in San Diego convened a grand jury to investigate NDS, and other satellite broadcasters – Echostar in the US, Sogecable in Spain and MEASAT in Malaysia – applied to join to the Canal Plus action.

In June 2001, with the Vivendi/Canal Plus empire days away from collapse, Murdoch agreed to buy its Telepiu pay TV arm in Italy, which he merged with Stream to form Sky Italia.

A condition of the deal was that Canal Plus buried the NDS lawsuit. It became a race for time to see whether Echostar, Sogecable and MEASAT could gain access to the Canal Plus documentation before the Telepiu deal closed in April 2003.

The window closed. MEASAT walked away when the Canal Plus case closed. Sogecable and EchoStar had to launch new lawsuits. But the delay in trying to join Canal Plus meant most of the events that formed the basis of their cases were now beyond the statute of limitations.

DirecTV dropped its NDS lawsuit after News acquired control of the broadcaster in 2003.

The grand jury investigation was transferred to Los Angeles, where a new deputy US Attorney found NDS had no case to answer.

EchoStar soldiered on, going to trial with a drastically restricted case in 2008.

via Murdoch’s inside job.