Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How low will Rupert go?

Former British PM Gordon Brown has gone on the offensive against Rupert Murdoch.    He stated today that while both PM as well as Tony Blair's Chancellor, his banking records and e-mails were hacked by the more reputable of Rupert's publications, the Sunday edition of the Times of London.    This is how it was found out, just as one example, that Brown's son has cystic fibrosis long before his family was prepared to tell the public.

For his part the incumbent PM David Cameron is standing behind his predecessor and repeating his calls that Rupert just give up his bid to totally take over the Sky direct-to-home satellite service although it has been given preliminary approval by Ofcom, the UK's FCC (Cameron yesterday referred the takeover attempt to an agency that handles anti-competitive issues).

Knowing Rupert's hardball tactics in the past, it's hard to imagine him giving up that easily.   Especially with Roger Ailes pulling a lot of the strings with the US television and print properties and wanting to make the similar services in the UK and Ireland carbon copies to their American counterparts (or vice versa, depending on your point of view) such that there is no difference whatsoever between publications and broadcasting on both sides of the pond.

But sadly, power does indeed breed arrogance, even among those who have the most honourable of intentions.    It's bad enough that electronic and voice mails were hacked for politicians and murder victims.   But then limiting people's choices to papers that feature Abi Titmuss and those that do not, with basically the same editorial content, isn't exactly my idea of choice.    (A viewpoint expressed a few years ago by a former professor of mine, journalist Alexandra Kitty.)

In part because of the BBC license (and thus the state broadcaster's TV, radio and online properties are actually accountable to the people, unlike here where the CBC is only accountable to the Cabinet although technically "independent"), television in the UK and especially news coverage is among the best in the free world, certainly superior to anything that can be found on this side of the Atlantic.    Newspapers are another matter.

If I was advising Cameron, I'd tell him that he should be giving Rupert a choice:    He can have Sky, or he can have the papers.   But not both.   And if he chooses the papers, he can only have one per major city or one nationwide daily.


WesternGrit said...

And, it's about time we do something like this to break up the Media Robber Barons in Canada.

BlastFurnace said...

NK, WG. Vancouver is a prime example. It is incomprehensible that one company, PostMedia (née Canwest, née Southam) operates all three dailies in the city -- the Sun (no relation to the tabloid Suns in other major Canadian cities), the Province and the Van edition of the National Post .