Ethical Performance
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FoE disappoints Sky by ending its campaign bid

October 2007

Friends of the Earth has pulled out of a bid to become BSkyB’s charity partner after an internal dispute at the pressure group over whether the partnership would have been acceptable.

FoE was one of more than 160 organizations that had applied to become the TV broadcaster’s new three-year charity partner, and its idea of a £1.7million ($3.4m) campaign on climate change was understood to have had a good chance of being chosen.

But the pressure group made a late withdrawal of its entry last month after more than 70 staff, including senior campaigners, signed a petition criticizing the link. They objected to the notion of forging any alliance with Sky’s chairman and controlling shareholder Rupert Murdoch, who owns the climate change-sceptical news channel Fox News.

Sky, whose chief executive James Murdoch is not a climate change sceptic, said it understood the decision, but was ‘disappointed’ because the application was ‘a highly creative, inspiring campaign idea exactly reflecting our own ambitions to address the pressing climate change challenge’.

FoE said in a statement that while it had ‘a duty to explore the opportunity to work in partnership with Sky given the potential benefits of reaching millions of people’ it had withdrawn because ‘it would be difficult to match Sky’s timing with [our] own participative five-year strategic planning processes’. It has promised to keep ‘an open dialogue’ with Sky.

FoE gets more than 95 per cent of its income from individuals and rarely forms partnerships with business. But it says it is ‘actively re-evaluating this position together with stakeholders’ because a number of businesses are, in its opinion, ‘making genuine attempts to make their operations environmentally sustainable and to engage their consumer bases’. It says Sky is a good example of this. Sky will announce the winner of its charity search in December.


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