Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation is never far from the news. He is one of the most feared, yet influential people on the planet. His companies crush the competition like a knife through butter, and has seldom been defeated. So why has his plans to win outright control of Europe’s most successful TV service British Sky Broadcasting caused so much hostility and anxiety?
News Corporation wants to buy around the 60 per cent of the company that they currently do not own. Unlike their competitors, which have been cutting back on their media ambitions during the recession, BSkyB is unusually profitable… and continues to grow. They are in a dominant position because they took risks while others failed.
Now those very failed others, whose opposition has been divided, now are crying foul, in the interests of a plural media. They persuaded Business secretary Vince Cable, to refer News Corps‘ bid to the so-called media regulator, Ofcom… the same regulator which allowed struggling mainstream commercial broadcaster ITV to opt out of its statutory public service responsibilities, particularly in terms of programming for children, and the reduction in regional news and current affairs.
Why should anybody be concerned about this development? After all, what is important is what viewers see on their TVs- the end product, like sport, drama, and light entertainment. Many people have recognised that if BSkyB didn’t exist, Britons would not be enjoying the multi-channel TV that we take for granted today.
If Murdoch’s critics are so concerned about the quality of British TV, then they should have offered better alternatives of delivering decent content and ways of distributing it in the first place. Virgin Media recently sold their TV channels to BSkyB, a few years after going through a costly legal battle with them over carriage fees, which meant the majority of cable viewers missed out on top US drama for a long time. Irish broadcaster Setanta struggled after paying over the odds for some sports rights rights in the UK…. and where are they now? There are far more important things we need to get to grips with right now than a purchase of a media company.
Before the tiny number of you reading this rant think… why is he such a Murdoch arse-licker? To the point, I’m not a fan of Murdoch’s in any way, and I hate the way he crushes his opponents… yes, I’m a Virgin Media viewer as well. But he is not the big bad wolf here.
The real danger is that our politicians are seeking to divert public attention away from the huge problems that they are causing… and we, the passive Brits, just sit in our homes, watching our TV…. and just take it.