Wednesday, 13 October 2010

'Without Murdoch there would be no Guardian'

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today praises Rupert Murdoch claiming: "Murdoch is the best thing that ever happened to the British media...Without him and his Fleet Street revolution it is most unlikely that today there would be any Guardian or Independent, any third news channel and any Sky Arts 2.

"When Murdoch came along the pundits predicted at most three newspapers in Britain by 1980, as in most unionised countries.For a quarter-century Murdoch defied opposition to transform the economics of British newspapers and television, salvaging the first from union monopoly and the second from BBC/ITV duopoly. At every turn he worsted his rivals and left them whingeing to government. Now he wants to buy all of BSkyB and they are whingeing again."

But then he buries him..."Having taken Murdoch's shilling in the past, I am more than aware of his shortcomings as well as virtues. He may have kept British journalism alive, but he hardly enhanced its standing in British life. His competitiveness in bidding for the FT, undercutting rivals and tormenting the BBC was often motivated more by mischief than strategy. A journalist by instinct, he also found it hard to stop meddling in his papers. He loves the wielding of power and shamelessly uses his access to advance his businesses."

Jenkins says the letter sent by Fleet Street rivals to the business secretary Vince Cable urging him to stop News Corporation taking full control of BSkyB is "the greatest compliment Britain's great and good have paid Murdoch. He has reduced his foes to pleading for government protection. He should be cock-a-hoop."

But he concludes: "Maintaining a diverse media is a crucial underpinning of democracy. As for Murdoch, the sun has shone and he has made hay. It is time he heard a regulator knocking at his door."

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