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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Murdoch + media dominance « Previous | |Next »
January 23, 2011

Murdoch, as is well known, uses News Corps power, to menace any government that stands in the way of his commercial ambitions or offends his basically conservative agenda. People fear the Murdoch press, and for politicians such a fear is compounded by the fact that Murdoch's newspapers can help swing elections. The News of the World phone-hacking scandal in the UK, which is set to gather pace, could start to undermine that power.

RowsonMMurdoch.jpg Martin Rowson

Henry Porter in Rupert Murdoch and the future of British media in The Guardian outlines a scenario of media dominance in Britain that could well apply to Australia in the near future.

Referring to Murdoch's bid to buy 100% ownership of BSkyB. Porter says:

The emergence of Sky's market power would be problem enough if it just affected the television industry, but what makes it a defining moment for Britain is how the financial and industrial strength in television interacts with News International's dominance of the newspaper industry. The Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World together constitute 37% of UK newspaper circulation.Moreover, this is an industry struggling to find a viable business model as circulations fall and advertising revenues shrink. Cross-media ownership was an electric issue even in an era of stable technology; at a time of transformative technological change, it has become toxic because NI's [News International] television strength can come to the rescue of print in a way no other newspaper group can match

He adds that once NI gets 100% ownership of BSkyB, it will simply add its newspaper titles to the subscription television bundle to be received online. NI is the fourth-largest advertiser in the UK. Its marketing heft and industrial strength in pay TV will thus support its newspapers and the rest of the industry will be slaughtered.

Porter adds:

There is a convergence of TV and online usage and attractively priced online newspapers available via Sky as part of carefully designed packages for individual consumers will be irresistible...the prospect by 2020 is of an enfeebled newspaper industry in which NI titles command more than half the circulation and revenues and a television industry in which coverage of current affairs beyond a diminished BBC will be sporadic, thin and partisan.

The inference is that News Ltd 's strategic plan in Australia is to acquire more of Foxtel.

The question for media regulators is that if phone hacking was widespread on a Murdoch newspaper, why should the government allow News International's parent company to own even more of the UK media landscape?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:38 AM | | Comments (7)


The senior politicians in both political parties are scarred of Murdoch. Murdoch is their sun king and they frequent his court.

So they are muted in their criticism of his papers illegal surveillance by hacking into phones, using eavesdropping technologies and stealing documents.

The key concern for News International is to acquire 100% ownership of BSkyB and to ensure that the Cameron Government allows this to happen.

People will be sacrificed re the phone scandal to ensure the BSkyB deal goes through.

How long has it taken for me to realise that the thread starter is adorned of a Rowson?
I thought about this for a moment and realised the problem.
Its, well, its just, that Clegg... is not Clegg!
If you know what I mean, that is ( smiles sheepishly, rises to leave room).

No doubt News Corp will spin the phone hacking scandal as being exploited by media critics determined to block the 100% ownership of Sky television by News Corporation.

You can see the News Corp line with Mark Day in the Australian. He asks why has the issue has come back after four years to haunt the News of the World newspaper? He says the answer is found on two levels, but in one word: politics. The game is being played by Murdoch's commercial rivals (ie., The Guardian and the New York Times) and by elements of the former British Labor government.

Until shortly before Christmas News of the World and News International had always alleged that only one rogue reporter and a private investigator were involved in the practice of phone hacking. The police had repeatedly insisted that there was no evidence available to link any other News Corporation employees with hacking.

That firewall is no longer credible.

Murdoch's power over politicians comes from their fear of reprisal if they cross him. Sometimes it's just plain fear. They believe that a condition of success in Australian politics is to please the world's most powerful media magnate.

Murdoch's media strategy is simple. He wants media dominance. So Melbourne should have the Herald Sun but not the Age. That is a goal. Monopolies are best not competition. It is easier to assert significant political power then.

Murdoch would have hoped the BSkyB deal would have been waved through by now by the Cameron government ,with the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, giving the nod and so avoiding a long Competition Commission inquiry.

Hunt position is that the deal would not make a substantial difference to the plurality of the British media.

There is little doubt that the News Corp takeover of BSkyB] will be granted.