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First Montgomery, then Berlusconi – Murdoch or Forbes next?

Only Berlusconi or Murdoch could have received worse press than former Mirror-boss David Montgomery, wrote Börsen, the Danish financial daily, sometime at the height of the Orkla-Mecom debacle which saw former Orkla Media, the Scandinavian based newspaper group, sold to Montgomery's British investment vehicle Mecom.

Well, wouldn't you know, foreign media moguls seem to be moving in on Scandinavian media from all directions these days. After Spanish Telefonica agreed to sell Endemol, the international TV-production company, to a consortium that includes Berlusconi's Mediaset last week, the former Italian prime minister looks set to join Schibsted in the boardroom of Nordic TV-production company Metronome.

Those damn foreigners
With all the outcry over the prospect of having a foreigner like Montgomery own Norwegian and Danish papers, and bring those dreaded British newspaper values to a Scandinavian media company, one would have thought that the arrival of an Italian media mogul, accused of sleaze, corruption and worse, would cause a stir, but, perhaps because the deal still is subject to regulatory approval, the usual suspects have refrained from commenting.

Not a word so far from the great worrier Trond Giske, Norway's culture minister, about his concern for Italian entertainment values seeping into the nation's beloved soap operas. But then, Giske has made it clear that it is infotainment, not entertainment he's worried about, or perhaps that should be shielding infotainment from entertainment.

Murdoch listens, will Forbes pay up?
Meanwhile, Schibsted's CEO was recently invited to Murdoch's digital future conference to talk about Schibsted's successful online transition, but if Murdoch was impressed by what he heard, Kjell Aamot, Schibsted's CEO certainly had some reservations about parts of Murdoch's online strategy. The Murdoch connection, however, is established, and this picture even shows a striking resemblance between the two media execs.

And if Murdoch is content to praise the lessons of Schibsted's CEO, Steve Forbes seems prepared to put his money where his mouth is, at least if we should believe yesterday's reports from Schibsted-owned E24. When asked by E24's reporter if Schibsted was an interesting acquistion object for the American media mogul, he answered: "I'm interested in everything I can get for a good price". The reporter did add, however, that the company's ownership structure would make an acquisition complicated, and, with the recent buzz around its online successes, I'm doubtful of how 'good' a price tag Forbes could secure.


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