Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is writing to Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading today to seek advice from the regulators over the proposed merger of television broadcaster BSkyB with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire.I'm sorry, but WTF? FFS!
The move, reported by the BBC, follows the sudden shuttering of Sunday tabloid the News of the World.
Let's get a sense of perspective here ...
From Mark Steyn:
The New York Times has shown an inordinate interest in the demise of Britain’s News Of The World, a newspaper 99.99 percent of Times readers have never read and I’d wager a majority had never heard of until a week agoFrom Tom Paine:
One understands, of course, that the Times is rattled by Rupert Murdoch’s revitalization of the Wall Street Journal as a broadsheet with appeal to more than merely the financial world, and so it is in the paper’s interest to pile on Mr. Murdoch. But, even so, this is ridiculous:
In truth, a kind of British Spring is under way, now that the News Corporation’s tidy system of punishment and reward has crumbled. Members of Parliament, no longer fearful of retribution in Mr. Murdoch’s tabloids, are speaking their minds and giving voice to the anger of their constituents. Meanwhile, social media has roamed wild and free across the story, punching a hole in the tiny clubhouse that had been running the country. Democracy, aided by sunlight, has broken out in Britain.
“British Spring” as in Arab Spring? Ruthless tyrant Rupsi Murdaroch forced into exile at Sharm al-Sheila back in Oz? British MPs, no longer “fearful of retribution,” are transformed overnight: Yesterday, they were Claude Rains in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, corrupt toadies doing the bidding of Boss Murdoch. Today, they’re getting in touch with their inner Jimmy Stewart.As with the Arab Spring, the British Spring can more or less be guaranteed to turn out the opposite of the Times’s sunny predictions. On the whole, I prefer an unrespectable reptilian press sticking its foot in the grieving widow’s doorway to, say, a media of portentous over-credentialed unreadable drones with no greater ambition than to serve as court eunuchs to the Obama administration.
From Toby Young:
The posh left is triumphant. The people are bamboozled once more by their own sentimentality. A co-ordinated and well-timed plan of attack (judging by the steadiness of the daily leaks) is succeeding.
No-one sees the elephant in the room (the bloated, biased and soon-to-be-even-less-challenged state broadcaster). When people talk of Murdoch owning 40% of the British press, no-one takes any account of Auntie's dominance in forming British opinion.
Once again, the knee-jerk reaction to wrong-doing was not to leave it to the prosecutors. Instead - stupidly - it was to call for even more law. Law that will raise barriers to entry in the media, therefore reducing diversity of ownership and accelerating the decline of the dead tree press. Law that will put a chill on free speech and reduce the newspapers to the same subservience to the liberal elite as the BBC.
Now, you might disapprove of some of the ‘dark arts’ that tabloid journalists use — phone hacking, for instance — but if they always played by the rules they’d rarely get the scoop. Some of these stories are trivial and hardly of vital national importance, but others are not. Without the unscrupulous, appalling, ‘shocking’ behaviour of red-top reporters, we probably wouldn’t know about Cecil Parkinson’s infidelity or John Prescott’s affair with his secretary. We wouldn’t know about the match-fixing antics of Pakistani cricketers or the corruption at the heart of Fifa. Yes, the ink-stained wretches regularly desecrate the graves of dead girls, but they also speak truth to power and they do it more often — and with more impact — than the broadsheets.From James Delingpole:
So by all means condemn the News of the World for its newsroom culture, a culture that encouraged reporters to think it was acceptable to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of an ‘exclusive’. But before you get up on your high horse, remember that without these Fleet Street foot soldiers Britain would be a more corrupt country in which the ruling class could engage in all sorts of nefarious practices with no fear of being caught. Without its tabloid newspapers, Britain would be France.
So should our government stop the BSkyB takeover, and does this have anything to do with The News of the World?
So, for example, in the case of l’affaire NoW, we have the liberal-left glibly circumventing the need to argue over subtle nuances like whether or not we might benefit from a broadcast media alternative to the pathologically leftist BBC and Channel 4 by tarring anyone who tries to raise these points as the kind of kitten-strangling devil Nazi who thinks tabloids have a God-given right to bug the phone of murdered children and fallen heroes.
...No one has a less deserving claim to the moral high ground than the liberal-left, for in the name of making our “society” kinder and fairer it is actually eroding our freedoms, stealing our livelihoods, stoking resentment and social division, destroying our economic future. Yet daily we go on letting these disingenuous bleeding heart scuzzballs get away with it. Why?
Tom Paine concludes:
It's no-one's damn business who owns a newspaper. No more than it's anyone's business (but mine) who owns this blog. There is no need to regulate the press at all, beyond the ordinary obligations of all citizens (many of which the British tabloids have clearly broken). There is now no hope however - with cross-party agreement on Labour's impudent motion on Thursday - of avoiding even more regulation. Soon, there will be a frenzied settling of the elite's scores, and we will become less free.
Like him, I despair.