Murdoch’s war with the BBC escalates

Ian Burrell

murdoch4 267x300 Murdochs war with the BBC escalatesRupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire this morning introduced an unprecedented level of vitriol into its long-standing war of words with the BBC.

In a leader article, The Sun has accused the corporation’s journalists of outright bias, claiming “the Beeb is today the pompous voice of defeated socialism.” In language, extreme even for the media mogul’s favourite attack dog, the paper claims that the BBC newsroom “broadcasts ludicrous warnings about cardboard cities, mass evacuations and Nazi style extremination of poor families as if they were fact.”

It warns the BBC that its public funding “must not become a licence for malicious and unscrupulous propaganda”.

The peg for this attack – extraordinary even by The  Sun’s standards – is the use of a 22-year-old interviewee who the BBC claimed was a victim of benefit cuts. The Sun runs a story today claiming that the young man admitted he was “better off on benefits” than working. A headline stated: “Viewers conned by Beeb”.

Such blunt accusations of bias are no small thing, especially when the BBC has just had its wings clipped by the Government, with the corporation’s licence fee frozen for six years and an effective cut of 16% in its budget.

This war of words is also part of a commercial battle, with Rupert Murdoch wanting to take full control of BSkyB (his company is the largest shareholder in the satellite broadcaster). The plan, which would enable all sorts of opportunities in bundling TV, press and online content across the News Corp empire, is being fought by media rivals. The BBC’s director general Mark Thompson has been an outspoken critic of the growth of Sky. Meanwhile BSkyB is on a charm offensive over Thompson’s claims that it fails to make its fair share of original shows.

The News Corp takeover of BSkyB would require the approval of the competition authorities. The Sun’s leader, attempting to inhibit BBC criticism of the new government, has probably provoked rounds of high fives in the Downing Street press office this morning.

Picture: EPA

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  • JohnBEllis

    “We work for the Lie Factory”, said a notice in the window of the editorial offices of “the Sun” just after they’d moved to Wapping.No change there, then. Except that Murdoch’s NewsCorp was a new owner back then. These days, integrity having been been purged long ago, there’d be no such notice, whatever the circumstances.There’s only one really appropriate use for “the Sun”. And these days, now that there are better product ranges on the market than the Bronco and San Izal of the 1950s to hang behind the door of the smallest room, it wouldn’t be particularly good for that either. Frightening to think that, with Coulson squatting in no. 10, the Digger’s hand reaches into the furthest recesses of government. Tolkien’s “Dark Lord” comes to life …

  • JohnJustice

    I think there is some truth in the allegation of a left/liberal bias at the BBC (particularly on their coverage of the Iraq war after top BBC people got the sack in the wake of the Kelly affair). But I think it’s a bit rich of the Sun to complain about the BBC singling out victims of the benefit cut when they were singling out victims of Labour’s shortcomings throughout their period of office.

  • Rory O’Beirne

    These are frightening times from my perspective. Murdoch seeks to destroy the BBC for his own commercial and political reasons. His funding backs the campaigns of the Conservatives who now find themselves in a position to destroy this country’s public service broadcaster. If they succeed then the BBC will be consigned to the history books, never to be resurrected. On television Sky One will most likely occupy first position on the EPG. This will most definitely lead to a biased channel and a channel which if controlled indirectly by the government of the day, whether they be Labour or Tory, will be a frightening weapon. The bias shown by Sky News throughout the 2010 election campaign highlights the danger that we face as a public that consumes news and factual programming. Lace that programming with bias and the result is propaganda.

  • clump

    Why would anyone want to pay a bloke who looks like Davros, good money to get channel-upon-channel of mindless dross?
    Keeps the masses quiet and out of trouble.

  • Mort687

    What the SUN says about the BBC is basically true. The fact that Murdoch has a business motive doesn’t alter the truth in in any way. The Sun is basically engaging in politics in order to bring the focus on the truth and for political gain in the politics of licensing anarchy.

  • Munkstar

    They attack the BBC as it delivers, from adequate to brilliant, multiple communications products for £10 a month.

  • jaundicedi

    When the BBC opens up debate instead of limiting it to narrow PC confines, then it can call itself a public broadcaster. When it stops rushing through the basic whatwherewhenwhowhyhow and explores objectively verifiable facts in detail instead of rushing to deliver its opinion, (coverage of the decline of Obama a case in point) it will resume being a trusted source of information. When it stops sending ludicrous numbers of journos to cover a story in far-off places (Chile, World Cup, US elections) and reduces its non-core activities to fit a tight budget I’d stop being so annoyed paying my licence fee.

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