Murdoch wins again

Posted on March 3, 2011

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There are some bits of news that, no matter how unreasonable and unwanted, you just expect. So it was no surprise to wake up this morning and find that the Con-Dems had dealt a vicious and serious blow to the plurality of the media by allowing NewsCorp to complete its takeover of BSkyB.

Forget all the hullabaloo a few months back of Vince Cable “declaring war” on Murdoch’s empire, that was yet another case of Liberal Democrat guff to convince their supporters they hadn’t totally sold their soul to the devil by cosying up to Cameron’s Conservatives. This government was never likely to reject the takeover. Cameron and his government, like their predecessors, have caught the Murdoch bug. From the moment Murdoch switched sides and backed the Tories prior to last year’s election, nobody seriously expected the government to stand in his way. This was the prize he had in mind when he put the full force of the Sun behind Cameron in 2010.

Media complaints have been ignored. Jeremy Hunt, raising doubts that James Naughtie’s mislabelling of him may not have been that erroneous after all, ignored the pleas of the Guardian, Associated Newspapers, Trinity Mirror and the Telegraph media groups, as well as Ofcom, in neglecting to even refer the deal to the Competition Commission. Labour criticisms must fall on deaf ears, for they themselves were much in thrall to the Murdoch empire as the Tories now are. Our elected representatives, it seems, fall to their knees when this particular mogul is in town.

Hunt has argued that watchers will benefit from the new-found independence of Sky News. Yet, as Media Bastard notes, Murdoch has found ways around such conditions before. And if he flouts them this time, who is going to stand up to him? Certainly not Cameron, Hunt or a Conservative party concerned primarily with appeasing big business. And certainly not Clegg, Cable or a Liberal Democrat party concerned with survival, a hope that must now hang on the result of the referendum on the Alternative Vote system.

As ever, democracy falls victim to the market. More powerful than ever, Murdoch now has the power to ruthlessly crush all his rivals in the media. We are ever closer to the day when what is ‘news’ will depend entirely on what he considers it to be; on what he considers most beneficial to is interests. And our politicians are unwilling, though not unable, to prevent that.

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Posted in: Issues, Media, Politics