“Murdoch wants to turn Sky News into right-wing news channel like Fox” (contd. p94)
The Daily Mash sums up the “With One Bound Both Jeremy Hunt and Rupert Murdoch Were Free” dilemma for many of us:
One of the greatest Guardian reader conspiracy theories of the last 20 years was under threat last night after Rupert Murdoch agreed to sell Sky News.
Dozens of left-wing people across north London warned their lives would be rendered hollow and meaningless unless Murdoch was given free rein to turn Sky into an ultra-right wing news channel pumping Christian free-market hate ideology into the homes of millions of lower middle class sheep.
I vaguely agreed with the “Who ever thought Rupert Murdoch would get his way?” sarcasm that greeted the terms of the deal. Until I went in to the Commons to hear Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, make his statement. Now, I am a Hunt-sceptic as much as I am a Murdoch-sceptic. All this talk of him as a possible future Conservative leader leaves me puzzled. But the fixture was a no-contest.
Ivan Lewis, Labour’s culture spokesman, asked some perfectly reasonable questions. Hunt then rose to point out that Lewis had not said whether the Opposition were for or against the deal.
Other Labour MPs made points of varying degrees of rhetorical overkill (honourable exception: Kerry McCarthy, who hit on the nice trick of simply reading out a constituent’s email, thus giving direct expression to popular scepticism). But Hunt’s response was simple: it didn’t matter what his motives were, as he had acted on the advice of the regulator, Ofcom.
Labour were completely unable to summon up the beginnings of any sort of case against the deal. Not even Chuka Umunna.
The real argument against Murdoch taking full control of Sky-Minus-Sky-News has been advanced only by Andrew Neil: it is that the cash generated by SMSN could be used to fund an anti-competitive price war in the newspaper market.
That is an argument to which The Independent and Independent on Sunday are sensitive. It is not only Guardian readers who have reasons to be wary of Murdoch. We have been here before, having to fight against the price-cutting of The Times in the 1990s.
But Hunt could hardly have over-ruled the advice of the independent regulator on the basis that Murdoch (father, son or daughter) might use SMSN to subsidise a newspaper price war in future. Any proprietor with deep pockets might start a price war at any time.
Hunt’s decision was the right one.
Photograph: APTagged in: media pluralism
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