The initiative has been encouraged by James Murdoch, News Corporation's chief executive and chairman in Europe and Asia, as a way of exploiting the two separate companies' links. News International, publisher of The Times and The Sun, is fully owned by News Corporation, while BSkyB, owner of brands such as Sky Sports News and Sky1, is 39%-owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled group.
Sources stress that Fusion does not mark the advent of permanent cross or joint selling across the two firms. Rather, according to one, Fusion is intended to allow bespoke opportunities for senior NI and Sky Media commercial executives to offer "a set of assets that complement their clients' marketing strategies".
Insiders point out that the rollout of Fusion, which is a client-led initiative and will not impact existing agency arrangements with NI or Sky Media, is not about "bulking up scale, or making a reaction to any changes to CRR [the mechanism that ultimately governs ITV1's ad rates]. It is a way of trying to bond the assets where possible".
Furthermore, there will be no merger of the two firms' sales teams, although, the formation of a "virtual" sales team to straddle both outfits did figure in the early thinking for Fusion. That option has now been ruled out, it is understood. Collaboration between News International and BSkyB is not new. One-off tie-ups have happened previously; for example, a Goodfellas campaign ran across some of the two companies' brands recently.
News International and BSkyB declined to comment.