17 thoughts on “Corporate media problems in Britain

  1. Friday 16th December 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    THE Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox corporation made a formal £11.7 billion takeover bid for broadcaster Sky yesterday, prompting fears that the right-wing tycoon will tighten his media monopoly.

    The proposal comes five years after Mr Murdoch attempted to take full control of Sky through his News Corporation, a bid which was derailed after the latter company became embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal.

    However, pressure is now piling on Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, who has until Christmas to decide whether to refer the deal to communications regulator Ofcom.

    National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet called for the deal to be halted until the second part of the Leveson inquiry into media phone-hacking has been held.

    She added: “We need greater plurality in our media, not an ever-further toxic consolidation of power and control.”



  2. Friday 16th December 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    GOVERNMENT failure to ask regulator Ofcom to investigate the planned takeover by 21st Century Fox of Sky will confirm Tory deference to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

    Murdoch already owns 39 per cent of Sky, as well as the Sun, Times and Sunday Times newspapers.

    Parcelling them up as a job lot for a branch of his US portfolio will concentrate ownership of Britain’s media to an unhealthy degree and place it into overseas ownership.

    Such a scale of foreign influence over media and cultural life would not be permitted in the US.

    Shadow culture, media and sport secretary Tom Watson is right to insist that Culture Secretary Karen Bradley refer the takeover to Ofcom.

    While few people entertain high hopes of the media watchdog growing teeth sharp and strong enough to frighten Murdoch, the longer this dirty deal is in the public domain, the more likely it can be frustrated.

    It beggars belief that Bradley could have the gall to pronounce that there are no public interest concerns over this effort to enhance Murdoch’s influence.

    There must be “fit and proper persons” questions for both Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, who currently combines the posts of Sky chairman and Fox chief executive, which surely raises issues of divided loyalties in the deal.

    Some corporate shareholders have jibbed at the sales price set for Sky shares — roughly what they were worth six months ago — and suggested that nominally independent non-executive directors are anything but.

    More significant yet than corporate efficiency, profits and shareholder dividends are the key issues of diversity and plurality highlighted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

    This is, of course, a rehashed sales plan that had to be put on the back burner in 2011 when the unethical and illegal behaviour of the Murdoch-owned News of the World and other titles shook his brand to the core.

    Who can forget the televised images from the Leveson inquiry into the conduct of the press after revelations that journalists from the Murdoch stable had hacked the voicemail of murdered child Millie Dowler and that this form of telephone interception had become endemic?

    Murdoch senior behaved as though auditioning for lead role in the movie about the Guinness fraud trial, “Ernest Saunders — My Miraculous Recovery from Alzheimers.”

    He remembered nothing, looked vacant and rambled on about experiencing the “most humble day” of his life. Praise the Lord, another miracle was revealed to the world.

    His intellect has returned as sharp as ever and he remains intent on pushing ahead with the absorption at knockdown cost of Sky now that the Tories have put aside their big talk about the need for press regulation before agreeing finally to take no meaningful action.

    NUJ insistence that there must be no go-ahead until part two of the Leveson Inquiry has taken place must be supported.

    David Cameron and his culture secretary John Whittingdale were widely seen as too enmeshed with the Murdoch outfit to act independently.

    This led Theresa May to pledge, on taking office in July, that her administration would put the interests of the people before the powerful.

    Now is her chance. Her government can opt for public scrutiny or private rubber-stamping.

    Ministerial pledges to be “scrupulously fair and impartial” in handling Murdoch’s empire expansion bring no reassurance to anyone fearful of the public interest being lost amid tumultuous demands for the rich and powerful to win more wealth and influence.



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