BBC as ‘Orwellian Threat’ – James Murdoch


James Murdoch concluded his presentation at the Edinburgh TV festival with the words: ‘The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantee of independence is profit.’ He presents BBC as an Orwellian threat to independent journalism

This weekend [Aug 28th 2009], hearing of the speech I did the decent journalistic thing and looked it up in the News Corp press release. All my attempts to cut and paste elements from the text were defeated. It may be as a result of my technological incompetence. Or it may be part of News Corps enthusiasm for pay to view, even for the content of press releases.

So I keyed-in the punch-line all by myself, and turned to the BBC, one of the prime targets in the speech for more information.

What follows has been cut and pasted from the report by the BBC

News Corporation’s James Murdoch has said that a “dominant” BBC threatens independent journalism in the UK.
The chairman of the media giant in Europe, which owns the Times and Sun, also blamed the UK government for regulating the media “with relish”

Organisations like the BBC, funded by the licence fee, as well as Channel 4 and Ofcom, made it harder for other broadcasters to survive, he argued.

“The BBC is dominant … “Other organisations might rise and fall but the BBC’s income is guaranteed and growing.”

Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, told the BBC’s World Tonight that Mr Murdoch had underplayed the importance of Sky as a competitor.
“Sky continues to grow and get stronger and stronger all the time so this is not quite a set of minnows and a great big BBC ..[noting that declining advertising revenues in the recession, rather than the corporation, were to blame for the problems facing the commercial media] That is nothing to do with the BBC, that is just to with what’s happening”

News Corporation owns the Times, the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and pay TV provider BSkyB in the UK and the New York Post and Wall Street Journal in the US. Rupert Murdoch addressed the same festival 20 years ago, and was also critical of the UK’s media policy.

A bit more history

This week, with the death of Teddy Kennedy, I was reminded of the dynastic ambitions of Joe Kennedy for his sons .

There are some parallels between Joe and Rupert in that respect. Both were self-made tycoons. Both were considered single-minded and determined to overcome all obstacles between them and their goals, whatever it took.

LWD has been following the developing story of News Corp and the Murdoch dynasty for leadership lessons which they might offer.

Earlier this month [August 8th 2009] we reported the news that News Corp is intent on creating a new business model which will attempt to charge for on-line content. This is not a new idea, but will require the mix of entrepreneurialism and risk required for radical change.

Earlier posts suggested that son James shared the highly competitive characteristics of his father, although he was not necessarily the first choice as dynastic heir.

He has shown his combativeness in dealings with Richard Branson, another highly successful entrepreneur, but one who tends to blend his own competitiveness with a more cuddly public image than do the Murdoch clan.

However independent, James was sticking pretty close to the corporate line in Endinburgh.

The BBC is like the NHS

Taking on Richard Branson might be called a touch challenge. Taking on the BBC might be considered even tougher. It’s rather like taking on the NHS. A point not lost on Will Hutton who argued in the Guardian

Perhaps one of the most self-serving parts of his speech was when he accused the BBC of being Orwellian. But the BBC is not an arm of the Orwellian state; it is a public corporation committed to fairness and objectivity which is understood worldwide. It would never, like Fox News, a part of the Murdoch empire, broadcast rank half-truths about the NHS under the guise of being balanced and objective – and if challenged argue that it is part of a diverse, plural conversation.

5 Responses to BBC as ‘Orwellian Threat’ – James Murdoch

  1. […] news in countries that have strong traditions of public broadcasters (eg Australia and the UK). James Murdoch calls this issue the “dumping” of free state-sponsored content which makes it difficult for […]

  2. john says:

    this is a shot over the bow of the bbc and america’s cpb by the pandering rupert murdoch. the murdoch clan won’t be satisfied until they own the media. they are dangerous.

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