Government gave the go ahead to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to takeover 61% of BSkyB , earlier this month.
News Corp currently own 39% of BSkyB – as well as the Sun, the News of the World, the Times and the Sunday Times.
Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is intending to approve News Corp’s buyout of BSkyB providing it becomes an independent company. Press baron Rupert Murdoch himself, or his son James Murdoch presently chair the BSkyB, although not owning it completely.
“What everyone wants, what the public wants is … to have a free media in which no one person has too much control of our news outlets,” Hunt has said.
So, is it just me or does this statement from Jeremy contradicts his actions?
So yes, I do realise Rupert Murdoch created BSkyB, and that his or his son’s chairmanship will stand down if full ownership is brought. I’m also aware that this would set Rupert back several billion pounds (yes billions). But this doesn’t calm my anger.
Freedom of the press was a main topic, and indeed my main focus in my dissertation. I looked into the history of the freedom of the press, how newspapers broke away form government and how today’s capitalist society injected it’s own constraints into the media’s freedom, but more specifically to this new story – is how ownership in the British press is one it’s main monumental concerns.
Rupert’s empire owned 39.6% of the UK’s circulation, of printed press, in 2008. (McNair, B 1994). I shan’t go into any case studies about how Rupert cradled New Labour’s image before they won the 1997 election, or how after the fall of New Labour’s popularity Murdoch snapped his political alignment right back to conservative, with his paper’s following suit, especially in last year’s elections. (However, and I do think it’s worth adding here – purely for comedic value – how the Independent’s headline story – “Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will” – published last year caused a very flustered James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to storm into the Independent’s offices to have a rant at the editor – seriously – click here!)
The point is, and Jeremy has agreed with me on this one, you can’t have one man controlling most of the news. However Jeremy has gone on to say;- “I’m minded to accept the undertakings that News Corp have made which I do believe address that many people had…about the concentration of media ownership…and what this does is ensure is actually more independent than it is at the moment.”
By giving Rupert Murdoch 100% of the whole company? Continue Jeremy…
“These are legally binding and legally enforcing undertakings that are being made – they do things that, for example, insist that SkyNews has an independent Chairman…” Well, there was no legal contravention when Murdoch extended his reigns into many UK publications in the 1980’s, when the Press Complaints Commission vowed to maintain the British press freedom.
“News Corporation has decided that in order to gain control of the rest of Sky they are prepared to relinquish a significant degree of control on Sky News – and I think that will persuade some of the concerns of plurality that people have…”
Rupert Murdoch is notoriously known for intervening with his newspapers, let alone other news outlets. David Yellend, former editor for a Murdoch paper, told the Evening Standard last year explained all Murdoch editors have a “mantra” in their head on how to think, and publish, what Murdoch wants. And Murdoch even said himself he didn’t come all this way “not to interfere”, back in 1981.
This has not persuaded my concerns, and I very much doubt it has persuaded anyone else’s. Would you accept a promise from Rupert Murdoch that swears he’ll back down from a company he has just obtained complete ownership off? We are talking about the same guy who built Wapping Jeremy…
26th April is the date Jeremy will give his final verdict…