Tuesday 12 June 2012

Politicians' evidence to Leveson Inquiry shows how Murdoch triumphed against BBC, claims NUJ

The NUJ is claiming that the latest evidence given to the Leveson Inquiry by leading politicians, such as former Prime Minister Sir John Major (pictured), has "laid bare" the influence of Rupert Murdoch and shown how his commercial interests were allowed to triumph against the BBC.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Sir John Major’s testimony showed how Rupert Murdoch believed his ownership of a large part of the UK media landscape gave him the gall to believe that he could threaten the UK’s prime minister, by saying he would withdraw the support of his newspapers unless Sir John changed his policy on the UK’s membership of the EU.

“However, the NUJ is equally concerned about the unrivalled access that his son had in bending the most influential ears in the UK on his views of the BBC. James Murdoch was able to go right to the heart of the Tory-led coalition in meetings and cosy dinner parties with George Osborne and David Cameron to reiterate his aggressive stance against the BBC, outlined in his MacTaggart lecture, when he launched a scathing attack on the corporation, accusing it of a ‘land grab’ in a beleaguered media market.”

The NUJ is campaigning against the 20 per cent cuts to the BBC which it claims are a result of the secret deal between Mark Thompson, the out-going director general, and Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, to freeze the BBC licence until 2017.

Stanistreet said: “The upshot of the Leveson revelations of the Murdoch influence and stranglehold on the UK’s political process is a desperate need for a re-evaluation of the BBC licence deal. This was made behind closed doors and under what we know to be Murdoch-driven pressure. Especially as we now know that Sir Michel Lyons, the BBC Trust’s former chairman, who was in on the deal, is on record of saying Jeremy Hunt was ‘far too close to Sky’.”

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