Andy Gray sexism row highlights tensions at Sky
Did Sky News drop sister channel in it? And can Gray count on Murdoch's backing after suing NoW?
As Andy Gray's future as Sky Sports' leading football pundit comes under the spotlight, the unravelling of the scandal throws some light on the politics and tensions operating within the Murdoch media empire.
The latest footage of Gray making derogratory remarks about female linesman Sian Massey was broadcast on Sky News, a channel that Sky could be about to jettison as part of Murdoch's plan to buy out the entire network.
Gray, who is reportedly not well-loved by many of his colleagues at Sky Sports, is also caught up in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. He is one of the celebrities who have begun legal proceedings against the paper. Last week, the High Court heard how a private investigator employed by the News of the World made a record of Gray’s mobile number, password and pin.
The News of the World is, of course, owned by Rupert Murdoch, currently moving to take over BSkyB - Gray's employer. Given that tangled situation it is unclear how much backing Gray will receive from the Murdoch empire.
While Gray's partner in crime Richard Keys – the Sky football anchor - appears to have taken a step back from the brink by ringing Massey to apologise for his comments on Saturday, Gray is still in very hot water after even more footage came to light of him putting down Massey before the game.
And the manner of its release could hint at the state of relations between Sky Sports and Sky News at the satellite broadcaster's HQ.
Some believe that Sky decided to air the footage itself as an exercise in damage limitation. However, it may also be that the broadcaster's sports arm has been caught out by its news operation.
The video - complete with subtitles - of Gray announcing that he "definitely wouldn't", after taking a look at Massey, was broadcast on Sky News, not Sky Sports.
The story in turn provided another Murdoch interest, the Sun, with a juicy front page which hinted at the turmoil the scandal has caused at Sky.
According to the Sun, Sky News' decision to show the footage prompted "heated exchanges" between channel bosses and led to threats from Sky Sports that they would no longer allow their reporters to do items for the news channel.
The reporter in the second clip, Andy Burton, who shown joking with Gray, was also been suspended by Sky Sports on Tuesday and warned about his future conduct.
However the scandal pans out, and whatever happens to Gray and Keys, Sky's coverage of the Premier League is unlikely to come under threat. The current deal, for which Sky forked out more than £1bn, runs until 2013 and it is unlikely that either the BBC, who paid £173m for its highlights deal, or ESPN, which could only afford one of the six live packages, will be able to outbid the broadcaster next time. ·
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