Dining with the Devil
Sky TV chief executive John Fellet was also present at a private dinner party attended by Opposition leader David Shearer at the home of Sky lobbyist Tony O'Brien, the pay-TV company has confirmed. Read More
Watch Outfoxed, a documentary about the Sky TV, Fox Media empire online.John Newsinger, International Socialism
“Most humble day”: the Murdoch empire on the defensive
Rupert Murdoch’s enforced appearance before the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on 19 July 2011 was an unprecedented humiliation. It signified the eclipse, at least temporarily, of his political influence in Britain. And this was at a time when his power seemed to have become greater than ever. While both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had willingly subordinated themselves to Murdoch and tailored their policies to fit his business agenda, under David Cameron it looked as if his influence was about to climax. The coalition government was all set to wave through his takeover of BSkyB, savage cuts had been imposed on the BBC at Murdoch’s request and he was to be given entry into the potentially extremely lucrative area of state education with a planned academy (hilariously specialising in “journalism”) in Newham. And, of course, at Cameron’s elbow was his Director of Communications, the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson. Even Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, not someone exactly renowned for standing up to the government, felt driven to publicly warn of the danger of “a concentration of media power in the UK that’s unheard of in British history and unheard of anywhere else in Europe…extraordinary power”.
Britain seemed well on the way to becoming a fully-fledged “Murdochracy” on the Australian model. The hacking scandal has wrecked all of this and put the Murdoch empire on the defensive.As the criminal activities of Murdoch’s newspapers were exposed to the light of day, politicians who had once courted the man ran for cover. They either condemned his influence (although without ever acknowledging its full extent) or, more usually, remained silent and refused to come to his aid. David Cameron, for example, actually sent an emissary to apologise to his good friend, Rebekah Brooks, for his inability to stand by her. Even David Blunkett, who had always found Murdoch “very reasonable”, failed to come to the defence of his benefactor. When Blunkett was forced to resign from Blair’s cabinet in November 2005, he went straight to a meeting with Murdoch for “a pleasant drink”. Murdoch offered him a consolatory column in the Sun worth £150,000 a year! Read More