James Murdoch

James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, has been named chairman of Sky, four years after leaving the company.

Mr Murdoch left what was then known as BSkyB and News International at the height of the phone hacking scandal. At the time, his father Rupert failed to push through News Corp's takeover of BSkyB. It already owned 39% of the company, but Rupert failed to secure a deal for the remaining 61%.

His appointment to chairman makes James Murdoch one of the most powerful men in European television, following a takeover of Sky's operations in Italy and Germany in 2014.

That 39% stake in Sky is now owned by US filmmaker Fox - which is led by, you guessed it, Rupert Murdoch - and media experts believe James' re-appointment could open up the possibility over another takeover attempt by Murdoch senior.

Last year, Rupert Murdoch told the Hollywood Reporter: "The company is moving at a very fast pace and has grown in value enormously. We've also been clear that over time, having 40% of an unconsolidated asset is not an end state that is natural for us."

Falling profits

Sky's takeover of Sky Italia and Sky Germany left it with falling profits in the six months to the end of December. The media giant reported pre-tax profits of £524 million, down £12m from the same period in 2014.

Operating profits hit £747m - Sky's highest ever first-half total - up 13% on 2014. But its operating costs hit a fairly large £223m as a result of transaction fees relating to its European takeover.

Sky also said it gained 337,000 new customers during the six month period, its highest growth in the UK and Ireland for 10 years.