There is a fine old tactic in politics (and the Murdochs are politicians as much as businessmen): when planning something controversial, accuse your opponents of doing exactly that. Thus:
There is a land grab, pure and simple, going on - and in the interests of a free society it should be sternly resisted. The land grab is spear-headed by the BBC. The scale and scope of its current activities and future ambitions is chilling.
…operating alongside the BBC, without access to its content or cross-promotional power, is not a task for the faint hearted. You need deep pockets, sheer bloody-mindedness and an army of lawyers…
Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish…
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.
Apart from the “state-sponsored” bit (with its comical insinuation that Gordon Brown is scripting the evening news), this is not far off a description of how News International operates.
Year after year, there is cross-subsidy from the profit-making Sun and News of the World to the loss-making Times and Sunday Times. Market forces would have killed the Times titles long ago, and/or forced their prices up much higher. The deep Murdoch pockets allow the dumping of the Times at an unnaturally low price, in a campaign to throttle the rest of the quality newspaper market.
Then Murdoch gives us this brief comedy routine:
Sixty years ago George Orwell published 1984. Its message is more relevant now than ever. As Orwell foretold, to let the state enjoy a near-monopoly of information is to guarantee manipulation and distortion.
The ZaNuLab Ministry of Truth has clearly been all too effective, for it has tricked the proles into trusting the BBC – and much more than commercial media.
A poll last year asked people which organisations they trusted the most out of the BBC, the NHS, the Church of England, the military, the media in general, the government and big companies. The BBC was ranked in the top two by 50% of people; the media in general by just 14%. And on which were trusted the least, the BBC was ranked in the top two by only 7%, while the media in general got 44%.
News International needs to do down the BBC not because it thinks a purer market would be good for Britain but because the Beeb shows it up – not so much commercially as morally.
Above all we must have genuine independence in news media. …independence is characterised by the absence of the apparatus of supervision and dependency. Independence of faction, industrial or political. Independence of subsidy, gift and patronage.
The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.
Laughable hypocrisy. The Murdoch media empire is intensely political, and the editorial lines of its news outlets across the world, along with its business and lobbying practices generally, seek to promote imperial expansion. It is an article of faith on the right that private enterprise is more efficient than publicly funded bodies. When it comes to eroding media diversity and independence, that is spot on.