Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Murdochs and the media


In this long, self-serving rant from Rupert Murdoch's son and anointed heir at News International, there is some sense struggling to get out:
Rather than concentrating on areas where the market is not delivering, the BBC seeks to compete head-on for audiences with commercial providers to dampen opposition to a compulsory licence fee. The corporation is incapable of distinguishing between what is good for it, and what is good for the country.

Yet bizarrely, James Murdoch spends the rest of the article attacking the one part of the BBC's output — its news and current affairs programming — where the strongest case can be made for limited state intervention. A carefully circumscribed and robustly impartial BBC news channel would certainly do more for the UK's democracy and soft power than a toxic Fox News UK.

Perhaps the government can do a deal with the Messrs Murdoch: a BBC without the soap operas, movies and sports that are amply provided by the market, and a less interventionist Ofcom, in exchange for much more robust enforcement of competition law and a limit of one national media outlet per beneficial owner. That would have the side benefit of saving us the nauseating spectacle of the leaders of both main parties flying around the world to pay obeisance to Murdoch Snr.

1 comment:

chris said...

The vast majority of BBC licence fee cash still goes on entertainment programming that markets can provide - if you look at the stats for BBC One, its quite scandalous (hence the Wossy-bashing).
BBC radio is less than 10% of total costs - and you have to agree with Murdoch at least on Lonely Planet.
Of course Fox News is now a commercial disadvantage to the Dirty Digger - will he pull its horns in and stop it trying to suggest Obama is Public Enemy No.1?