British Left moves to consolidate media stranglehold after hacking scandal
Labour and the Guardian have the BBC. They’re exploiting News of World debacle to stop greater TV-media plurality, and prospect of FOX UK.
“Murdoch's malign influence must die with the News of the World.” That is the headline chosen by the Sunday edition of the Guardian for its leader column on the demise of Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid: an explicit call for the end of Rupert Murdoch as a meaningful force in British public life.
Nothing new there of course. Borderline racism – repeated in Sunday’s article -- about Murdoch’s Australian origins and, worse, his domicile in the United States, has been a staple of Leftist discourse for years. They want to finish him. They don’t care how. And, like vultures circling over a rotting corpse, they sense that the time to swoop is near.
But it is vital to see what lies behind all this, and to understand that if it wasn’t Murdoch it would be (and one day will be) someone else.
To be sure, for the Left, Rupert Murdoch is a hate figure. But he also serves as a proxy for an emerging world of media plurality that fills them with fear.
Of course, that is an inversion of the charge the Guardian itself makes against Murdoch due to his control over several of Britain’s top newspapers.
And once upon a time that argument might have held some force, though a good deal less than was claimed for it. But the rise of the internet has largely put paid to all that.
Most newspapers are loss makers; many will be gone in under a decade; and with the emergence of a multiplicity of online platforms a genuinely pluralistic, text-media environment (including outlets such as The Commentator) cannot now be stopped.
Which is why attention in this debate has so quickly turned to television.
Right now, the issue of the day is Newscorp’s attempt to take over BSKYb. The Labour Party is tabling a motion in parliament calling for the bid to be suspended. The Guardian editorial thundered today that:
“…it is essential that Murdoch's control of BSkyB is rejected, as we have argued consistently in these pages. The spectre of the old Murdoch, whose demise was signalled last week – voracious and threatening – must not rise again from the ashes of the News of the World.”
What exactly do the Guardian and the Labour Party fear so much from this proposed deal? It can’t be media plurality, as they claim, since they’re die hard supporters of the BBC, the state-funded media monolith that dominates international, national, regional and even local broadcasting.
What they fear, of course, is that that left-leaning monolith might get some serious competition. Not right now: Britain’s incredibly rigid broadcasting regulations prevent proprietors from mounting an ideological challenge to BBC bias.
But the fear is that once Murdoch (or someone like him) can establish a major beachhead in the UK television market, it will only be a matter of time before the regulatory environment changes. At which point, the emergence of a British equivalent of the wildly popular FOX News channel will be a foregone conclusion.
That is what this is all about. The Guardian and the Labour Party have a stranglehold over the dominant media outlet influencing the terms of national debate. They don’t have the Sun, they don’t have the Mail, but in the BBC they have something vastly more powerful.
They see a straight line from a successful BSKYb takeover to the emergence of a truly pluralistic television media environment. And that vision terrifies them.
Make no mistake about it. The Left’s agenda is about censorship and control. Nothing more, nothing less.
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