Why Richard Desmond said he’d like to buy the Sun

This was an attempt to exploit the internal tensions within Murdoch’s media empire.

Richard Desmond has caused a bit of a stir this morning by turning up on the Today programme and announcing that he'd like to buy the Sun.

Asked by the interviewer, Nick Cosgrove, if he would like to buy the tabloid, the proprietor of the Daily Express and the Daily Star replied: "Work it out for yourself." Pressed on whether he had discussed a deal with Rupert Murdoch, Desmond was mute, saying only: "I talk to him about many things."

He added that his "highly profitable business" would run the red-top "in a different manner, which would be more efficient in today's marketplace".

Desmond's words should not be interpreted as a serious offer for the Sun. Rather, they were an attempt to exploit the internal tensions within News Corp over the future of the company.

Murdoch remains adamantly opposed to selling any newspaper, but his children, whom he is determined to see inherit his business, do not share this view. James Murdoch, who oversees the European and Asian corners of his father's empire, has consistently emphasised that television and entertainment are far more valuable to the company and that newspapers will play a smaller part in the future.

A recent rumour that Murdoch was planning to sell the unprofitable Times came to nothing, but it, too, highlighted how the tectonic plates are beginning to shift. Murdoch will laugh off Desmond's chutzpah, but his children will have carefully noted the offer.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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