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Twenty years on, Murdoch Jr echoes father’s attack on BBC - TV & Radio, Media - The Independent

 

 

 

Rupert’s son uses MacTaggart Lecture to condemn ‘Orwellian’ Corporation

 

By Ian Burrell, Media Editor

 

 

Friday, 28 August 2009

 

James Murdoch, the heir to his father Rupert's global News Corporation empire, last night accused the BBC of undertaking a "chilling" land-grab of the media that posed a "serious and imminent" threat to the future provision of news in Britain.

 

Murdoch Jnr, who is News Corp's chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia, warned that the dominance of the BBC risked creating the type of news media which George Orwell described in the novel 1984. "As Orwell foretold, to let the state enjoy a near-monopoly of information is to guarantee manipulation and distortion," he said.

 

Delivering the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, he railed against the "authoritarianism" of the Government and its watchdog Ofcom. He criticised rules designed to uphold impartiality in broadcast news and advocated the system of self-regulation which applied to the press.

 

The speech, which shocked the television executives, echoed the sentiments of his father, who delivered an outspoken attack on broadcasting establishment in the same venue two decades earlier.

 

Whereas Murdoch Snr's MacTaggart Lecture of 1989 had predicted the digital future, James Murdoch talked of the "digital present" and compared the media industry's conservatives to the creationists who rejected Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

 

In powerful language, he remonstrated against the growth of the BBC's news provision on the internet. "Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the internet," he said. "We seem to have decided as a society to let independence and plurality wither. To let the BBC throttle the news market and then get bigger to compensate."

 

The criticisms reflected his father's comments earlier this month that News Corp's newspapers must begin charging for their online content, a strategy undermined by the BBC website's presence as a vast source of free news. "It is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news," James Murdoch said last night. He claimed that "the threat to independent news provision is serious and imminent".

 

The corporation's governing body, The BBC Trust, had an "abysmal record" in overseeing the organisation's activities, he said, citing examples of the BBC's expansionism. "The scale and scope of its [the BBC's] current activities and future ambitions is chilling. Being funded by a universal hypothecated tax, the BBC feels empowered and obliged to try to offer something for everyone, even in areas well served by the market."

 

The growth of BBC Radio 2, he said, had damaged the radio industry by taking listeners already well-served by the commercial sector. "Performers like Jonathan Ross were recruited on salaries no commercial competitor could afford, and audiences for Radio 2 have grown steadily as a result," he said. "No doubt the BBC celebrates the fact that it now has well over half of all radio listening. But the consequent impoverishment of the once-successful commercial sector is testament to the corporation's inability to distinguish between what is good for it and what is good for the country."

 

Broadcasting, Murdoch complained, was constrained by an "authoritarian" degree of intervention by Ofcom. He compared British media regulation unfavourably with systems in Germany, India and France. "The problem with the UK is that it is unhappy in every way: it is the Addams Family of world media."

 

He contrasted the regulation in broadcasting with the self-regulation of the press, praising British newspapers for being "fearless and independent" and suggesting that the aim of achieving impartiality in broadcast news by balancing opinions was unattainable. "The mere selection of stories and their place in the running order is itself a process full of unacknowledged partiality."

 

Murdoch, 36, is non-executive chairman of BSkyB, whose Sky News service is subject to tight controls on impartiality, unlike the unashamedly right-wing American channel Fox News, also part of the News Corp portfolio. Twenty years ago, Rupert Murdoch's MacTaggart Lecture was characterised by his claim that television was a business and should not be the preserve of a publicly-supported duopoly of the BBC and ITV. Yesterday his son, ended his own speech with a similar homage to capitalism in the media. "There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society," he said. "The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit."

 

 

 

Is the spawn of the antipodean antichrist having a laugh? The only reliable guarantor of independence is profit? Oh do fuck off. This coming from the 'makers' of 'fair and balanced' Fox News? The S*n? The NOTW? I love the way that the senior executive of a media organisation that has resorted to scare tactics, deception, outright lies, the invasion of privacy, and strongarm tactics employed against sitting governments has the cheek to attack a public service broadcaster because their newspaper sales are down and they need to charge for their online content. The self-serving scaberous little prick. Someone from the BBC should have took to the stage and punched his fucking lights out.

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This was interesting I thought.

 

Broadcasting, Murdoch complained, was constrained by an "authoritarian" degree of intervention by Ofcom. He compared British media regulation unfavourably with systems in Germany, India and France. "The problem with the UK is that it is unhappy in every way: it is the Addams Family of world media."

 

He contrasted the regulation in broadcasting with the self-regulation of the press, praising British newspapers for being "fearless and independent" and suggesting that the aim of achieving impartiality in broadcast news by balancing opinions was unattainable. "The mere selection of stories and their place in the running order is itself a process full of unacknowledged partiality."

 

According to the breakdown of the speach on Sky News of all places, he doesn't think Ofcom should be allowed to regulate quality of content, the length of add breaks, or product placement.

 

So what he basically wants is for the place to be turned into the USA.

 

press, praising British newspapers for being "fearless and independent"

 

that's a load of bollocks too, the 'trashier' aspect of fleet street is infamous around the world for being anything but, and that's mostly down to Murdoch's influence, once described as a 'cultural Chernobyl' on the face of Britain and its journalism.

 

The BBC is the last bastion of decent news (other than Channel 4) and programming (comedy and natural history especially) in this country. What murdoch and chums basically want is free rein to dismantle anything which costs money to produce and gets in the way of unrestrained advertising.

 

Murdoch is like the conservatives, you can pretty much gurantee that if he thinks it's a good idea, it's going to be bad for you.

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Does everyone know the background on this? About a month ago Murdoch came out and said he wants to charge for all his online news and obviously he needs the very few remaining news outlets to do the same. So naturally now they are having a go at the BBC.

 

Hate them with a passion.

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Murdoch: All News Corp Websites Will Charge By 2010

 

 

 

NEW YORK — Visitors to the Web sites of newspapers owned by News Corp. will have to start paying fees to read the news within the next year, Chairman Rupert Murdoch said.

 

It's risky for the company because a pay barrier could drive away Web traffic – and with it, advertising revenue.

 

"You don't want to be the first guy to put up a big pay wall when all other roads to content are open," said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc.

 

Yet it is a move many news outlets will closely watch as they, too, consider charging users as the decline in print ad revenue far outpaces the growth of online ad dollars.

 

Murdoch told analysts late Wednesday that the company plans to start charging at all of the company's news Web sites. It wasn't immediately clear whether News Corp.'s broadcast Web sites would be included; spokeswoman Teri Everett had no further details Thursday.

 

Among News Corp.'s stable of dailies is The New York Post, The Times of London and The Sun, a popular British tabloid. News Corp. already charges for some access to The Wall Street Journal's Web site. It also owns the social-networking site, MySpace.

 

The idea of charging online is a reversal for Murdoch, who talked about throwing open the Journal's paid site when his company took over the newspaper in 2008.

 

There is a growing urgency, at News Corp. and elsewhere, to do something to stem the decline in ad revenue.

Story continues below

 

News Corp. lost $203 million in the most recent quarter and sees few indications of a speedy comeback. "I think the worst may be behind us but there are no clear signs yet of a fast economic recovery," Murdoch said.

 

The New York Times Co. is in a similar position. Having seen ad revenues drop by nearly a third this year, the company is considering some kind of online pay system at its flagship newspaper. It promises more details in the fall.

 

Unlike the Journal, which has charged readers from the outset, the Times has been largely free online except for a few abandoned experiments.

 

In the most recent – Times Select – the site charged for access to opinion writers. But the site dropped the idea after estimating it would make more money from the extra traffic through advertising.

 

The challenge is holding on to ad dollars while charging those readers who are willing to pay. One idea is setting up a kind of toll that allows readers to visit the site for free but begins charging after a certain number of page views.

 

Murdoch gave few details Wednesday on what News Corp.'s approach will be.

 

"The Wall Street Journal's WSJ.com is the world's most successful paid news site," he said, "We will be using our profitable experience there and the resulting unique skills throughout News Corporation to increase our revenues from all our content."

 

Asked how News Corp. will keep readers from simply jumping to free sources of news, he said, "I believe that if we are successful, we will be followed by other media."

 

Among those considering a pay wall are Cablevision Systems Corp., owner of Long Island, New York's Newsday, Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group and Hearst Corp., which publishes 15 daily newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle.

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This was interesting I thought.

 

 

 

According to the breakdown of the speach on Sky News of all places, he doesn't think Ofcom should be allowed to regulate quality of content, the length of add breaks, or product placement.

 

So what he basically wants is for the place to be turned into the USA.

 

 

 

that's a load of bollocks too, the 'trashier' aspect of fleet street is infamous around the world for being anything but, and that's mostly down to Murdoch's influence, once described as a 'cultural Chernobyl' on the face of Britain and its journalism.

 

The BBC is the last bastion of decent news (other than Channel 4) and programming (comedy and natural history especially) in this country. What murdoch and chums basically want is free rein to dismantle anything which costs money to produce and gets in the way of unrestrained advertising.

 

Murdoch is like the conservatives, you can pretty much gurantee that if he thinks it's a good idea, it's going to be bad for you.

 

 

I thought that was a tad disrespectful the way they barged into al-Megrahi's deathbed at the hospital and started spouting claims about his release being part of a trade deal (which it clearly was). He clearly was in no fit state to get into a debate about the intricacies about Libyan-British trade deals. I know his family seemingly gave their permission but a little cop-on wouldn't have gone amiss on the reporter's part.

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None of them are freinds of freedom, all enemies of truth, BBC and C4 News are the last bastions of bellwhiff. They are all the same, just targeted at different audiences, high brow, low brow, they are all the same. All of them.

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By the way, this is an attempt to start to create pressure in what was a vacuum with the public. It's setting the bar and the energy will now follow to try and make the participants jump. It's aimed at teh politicians who are in bed with them. A call to arms. Capitalism. There can be only one/

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I read this last week and was staggered by the sheer gaul of the man. There's a few things wrong with the BBC but I'd back it every day of the week over Murdoch's vile empire.

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His organisation is no worse than the BBC

 

Aren't you just trying a tad too hard to be shocking and controversial here? I don't believe for one second that you actually believe that.

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his organisation is twenty times worse. he manipulates peoples thoughts to the extent that he can win elections. i know people who read the sun who think that it is a labour paper, voice of the working class. Personally i think that i will celebrate Murdochs death more that thatchers

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Aren't you just trying a tad too hard to be shocking and controversial here? I don't believe for one second that you actually believe that.

 

What's there to beleive, one is easier to spot. That's the difference.

 

The BBC holds sway, the Murdoch empire appeals to certain people.

I think the BBC does much more damage because people beleive in it. It sets agendas unlike Murdoch publications which have to appeal to certain ignorant traits, the BBC is far more subtle abd alienates less people.

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It makes things acceptable, millions of dead made acceptable, even lauded and praised.

 

The BBC for instace, paved the way for the Iraqi invasion, something that Murdoch's empire could never have hope to have acheived here. It has consistently been in a state of denial and has managed to set agenda's divert all the important questions and section them off into menial, irrelavant, framed question debates, it has never come out and informed the public the invasion constitues an obvious war crime, it uses omission of facts to avoid valid questions and depitcts a black and white, sanitary version of the world. Some of Murdoch's publications have shown more opposition against it as it went against some interests.

They also emply Kelvin McKenzie, someone tell me the difference?

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I must have imagined the whole furore around the BBC reports that claimed the government “sexed up” the Iraq war dossier.

Also here’s a couple of illegal war reports:

BBC NEWS | UK | War with Iraq 'could be illegal'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq war illegal, says Annan

The beeb ain’t perfect and I think it's getting worse (particulary the BBC breakfast programme which is the most patronising thing I have ever seen), but I’m interested Dennis why you think the bbc sets agendas?

At the behest of the government? Or is it the bbc directors / programme managers doing it?

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News International is almost uniformly shit whilst the BBC is the best overall media organisation in the world.

 

However, those rather obvious starting points, are slightly distracting from the point he is actually trying to make which is an interesting one.

 

Newspapers on the internet cannot be free forever or the quality will decline to the level of free-sheets like the Metro.

It was a huge commercial mistake to make them free originally.

However how can they compete with the free BBC?

 

If a country announced plans for a free daily newspaper paid for by taxation & run by the government, there would be an outcry.

It would crush most commercial competition & there would be much less pluarity.

 

However that is exactly the situation we have presently ended up with on the internet.

 

Logically anyone who objects to the former should object to the latter.

 

You can't bemoan the closing of newspapers round the world without questioning the elephant in the room that is a free service with the most resources in the world, paid for out of general taxation, with which they cannot compete.

 

I think the BBC is an excellent organisation & bbc.co.uk is overall the best media on the 'net.

But that does come at a considerable cost of loss of alternatives.

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Newspapers sell to advertisiers, not readers. Therefore the point about the Metro doesn't work. You hire good writers so that you can still sell your product to your customers (your product being the number of eyes and the demographic of those eyes). The articles aren't the primary product and the readers aren't the primary customer; you have to bear that in mind when looking at the situation.

 

In no industry on the planet is the flaw of the market leaders controlling the flow of information to the market more apparent that in the media industry.

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Newspapers sell to advertisiers, not readers. Therefore the point about the Metro doesn't work. You hire good writers so that you can still sell your product to your customers (your product being the number of eyes and the demographic of those eyes). The articles aren't the primary product and the readers aren't the primary customer; you have to bear that in mind when looking at the situation.

 

In no industry on the planet is the flaw of the market leaders controlling the flow of information to the market more apparent that in the media industry.

 

 

Free media relying on ads is a viable model but it is based upon a cheap,throwaway product.

No quality written journalism exists on this model as the costs are too high.

 

If you have a free,tax-funded service then there is room for some quality,specialist sights to charge (ie/ the FT) but it is very difficult for a general news service to remain free.

 

Does that matter if the BBC is of such high quality?

 

Possibly not, but most of us would be up-in-arms if (any) government announced they would use general taxation to provide a free,quality 'paper delivered to everybody as it would destroy the pluraity we have at the moment & it smacks of totalitarinism.

 

That we are going towards the same model on the 'net is therefore worrying.

 

Friday's Newsnight had a very good debate on this including Greg Dyke & the FT editor (Barber??).

 

I think bbc.co.uk is an excellent service but they did raise a couple of vg points as to whether it is a model we want.......

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So we can rely on Murdoch's media arm to break stories like George W Bush stealing the American election by getting his brother to exclude votes for Al Gore in Florida that would have seen him win that primary and thus become president? Yeah, right.

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Free media relying on ads is a viable model but it is based upon a cheap,throwaway product.

No quality written journalism exists on this model as the costs are too high

 

Explain the Sun, Star and Fox News to name but a few!

 

Quality journalism lies with the Journalist involved, the ethics involved in the editorial policy etc

 

To blame a low quality of journalism on the price of the media involved is a purely economical view to an intangible question.

 

Put it this way, who do you think 'costs' more Richard Littlejohn or Nick Davies?

 

Brian Woolnough or Brian Reade?

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Explain the Sun, Star and Fox News to name but a few!

 

Quality journalism lies with the Journalist involved, the ethics involved in the editorial policy etc

 

To blame a low quality of journalism on the price of the media involved is a purely economical view to an intangible question.

 

Put it this way, who do you think 'costs' more Richard Littlejohn or Nick Davies?

 

Brian Woolnough or Brian Reade?

 

 

Paid-for can still be crap as the examples you show demonstrate.

 

BBC journalism is excellent.

However it does come at a cost of reduced plularity.

 

Murdoch will lose profits but his crap will still survive as it is cross-subsidised.

 

The BBC backed off a planned local internet news service for fear that it would be even more pressure on the struggling local papers.

 

This shows that,to be fair to them, they are well aware of the potential problem- Greg Dyke completely acknowledged the issue.

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Explain the Sun, Star and Fox News to name but a few!

 

Quality journalism lies with the Journalist involved, the ethics involved in the editorial policy etc

 

To blame a low quality of journalism on the price of the media involved is a purely economical view to an intangible question.

 

Put it this way, who do you think 'costs' more Richard Littlejohn or Nick Davies?

 

Brian Woolnough or Brian Reade?

 

That's only partly true.

 

The Echo lost over 40 staff recently, people with decades of experience who lived in and knew the city, and who knew its power brokers and had good contacts. They've been replaced by young, straight out of college types on low wages, many of them from outside Liverpool.

 

Many of them are not fully trained yet, many don't have more than ten minutes to do a job which should take four hours. When you cut back on staff to maximise the bottom line, you create holes and those holes have to be 'patched over' by re-writing press releases and doing a quick job on something which deserves more attention.

 

Brian Reade only gets the time to do a good job because he's Brian Reade, if he was just starting out at the echo, he'd be lucky to get ten minutes for his dinner.

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That's only partly true.

 

The Echo lost over 40 staff recently, people with decades of experience who lived in and knew the city, and who knew its power brokers and had good contacts. They've been replaced by young, straight out of college types on low wages, many of them from outside Liverpool.

 

Many of them are not fully trained yet, many don't have more than ten minutes to do a job which should take four hours. When you cut back on staff to maximise the bottom line, you create holes and those holes have to be 'patched over' by re-writing press releases and doing a quick job on something which deserves more attention.

 

Brian Reade only gets the time to do a good job because he's Brian Reade, if he was just starting out at the echo, he'd be lucky to get ten minutes for his dinner.

 

Yeah I can see that point, and agree, I only used Brian Reade as an example of the difference between good and bad journalism, and the fact that money is not necessarily intrinsic to it.

 

There really is no need to argue with James Murdoch just point to Fox news.

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Yeah I can see that point, and agree, I only used Brian Reade as an example of the difference between good and bad journalism, and the fact that money is not necessarily intrinsic to it.

 

There really is no need to argue with James Murdoch just point to Fox news.

 

James Murdoch is a cunt & almost all of News Int is utter shite.

 

But, like a broken watch, he is not always wrong

 

The point he is making he is a very valid one, which the BBC themselves are well aware of & are debating internally.

 

It is a real pity that this has been brought up by such a dickhead, as automatically it causes most of us to assume it is shite.

 

It is in fact very relevant.

 

If the BBC started a free print newspaper tomorrow out of taxation & distributed it to every house in the country, thereby destroying the Telegraph & Guardian would that be a good idea?

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