Rupert Murdoch

Cutting the BBC not the answer

Posted on February 2, 2010. Filed under: BBC, media, Rupert Murdoch |

The Conservative’s plan to top-slice or freeze the BBC’s licence fee sends warning signs about the future of the broadcaster under its governance.

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt said the savings could be used to fund a new “superfast” broadband network.

This effectively allows him to kill two birds with one stone; appearing to address Britain’s lagging broadband speeds, while acquiescing to the Murdochs.

Rupert Murdoch has openly supported a Tory government for the next election. While James has made unsubtle swipes at the BBC, and what he sees as its over-blown proportions.

The trouble is, there is some truth in claims the BBC has got grown beyond its purpose. There is repetition across channels, and in some instances, BBC content does not vary greatly from its commercial counterparts. And what was the justification for Worldwide’s 2008 snap-up of independent travel guide, Lonely Planet?

When compared to the starved Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC appears a domineering monster. However, it is the one organisation that can continually fund serious journalism, culture and the arts, while fostering new talent.

The BBC must be accountable to the tax payer and continue to deliver unique, representative and quality broadcasting for the populace. However, it could not better serve the public with a reduction in the licence fee. It would better serve Murdoch, and hence, the likely new government.

We do need faster broadband, but it should not come at the cost of a diverse and robust public broadcaster.

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The desperate moves of an empire in decline?

Posted on November 18, 2009. Filed under: Blogroll, media, Rupert Murdoch, This Week in the News |

ABC’s Mark Scott recently took a swipe at Rupert Murdoch, labelling his latest move to charge for online content as the signs of a flailing ruler desperate to maintain his power.

“It strikes me as a classic play of old empire, of empire in decline. Believing that because you once controlled the world you can continue to do so, because you once set the rules, you can do so again,” he said at the A.N Smith Memorial Lecutre in Journalism.

And certainly, Murdoch’s long-interview with Sky Australia (of which he owns a third) revealed a man grappling with an uncertain future.

In thinly veiled threats to those that dare to threaten his dynasty including the BBC, the ABC, Microsoft and Google, Murdoch let his insecurities known.

Commentators have been unsure of how to respond to his plans to put a stop to free online content. On the one hand, few can see it working, but on the other, many journalists hope it will work if only so they can keep their jobs a little longer.

You can’t help but hope he does succeed, if it means a lifeline for the industry, but at what cost to the egalitarian and open nature which has so far defined the web? It would be more comforting if you could believe Murdoch genuinely cared about journalism and the industry and not just his own coffers.

Few too are willing to doubt Murdoch’s business sense too loudly; this is a man who has single-handedly managed to create a global media empire dominant in Australia, Britain and America, with a strong hold on parts of Asia.

However, it is hard to see how removing NewsCorp’s news from Google’s index would be beneficial. Would readers be so loyal as to only look at one news site, which they must pay for not use a search engine? As interviewer Sky News Australia’s political editor David Speers said, Google does drive traffic to News Corp, but “if they are not paying”, said Murdoch, “we don’t want them”. Murdoch is only interested in “serious money” which he argued, cannot be made online with free content. However Times editor James Harding hinted this week the paper may take a softer approach.

However the story unfolds now, it will help define the future of journalism and online content.

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