Opinion: Liberals shouldn’t be scared of Murdoch

Trying to stop Murdoch from consolidating his hold on BSkyB was always going to be difficult. That is mainly because the case for stopping him was rather weak in the terms that governments are allowed to intervene in such matters. Murdoch already has practical control; he does not dominate the total television market, with the BBC and ITV still strong. The case rested on the proposition that he would further dominate the news market as a whole. But what really drove the campaign against Murdoch was fear and loathing. Liberals should have no difficulty with the loathing side of this, against the organisation that created Fox News, but this does not constitute grounds for intervention.

The fact is that Murdoch does not have a monopoly of hateful rightwing propaganda in the UK. He’s in stiff competition with the Mail, the Express and the Telegraph. And he does not have a monopoly on dodgy journalism, where the Mirror joins the list. It is these organisations that should fear him, and they were a strong part of the campaign to stop his takeover of BSkyB. Liberals can be much more sanguine: he’s not really after our part of the market.

But we do have to swallow a hard fact. An awful lot of people in our country will pay good money to read right-wing rubbish. Murdoch is exploiting this fact, not creating it. Promoting liberal values is about making stronger arguments. Press regulation needs to be firm; we must protect the independence of the BBC. Who owns BSkyB is a pretty secondary issue.

Matthew Green blogs at thinkingliberal.co.uk.

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18 Comments

  • Good grief this is sickening. The implication that only right wing papers (plus the mirror) deal solely in dodgy journalism and propaganda is ridiculous, and so is the implication that everything covered in them is right wing rubbish. I read the Telegraph and the Guardian and its clear that there are similar amounts of spin, and that each paper will sometimes ignore arguments or evidence from across the political divide in order to accomplish this.

  • Axe The Telly Tax 7th Mar '11 - 12:43pm

    The Telly Tax is Orwellian, Iliberal and hits the poorest the hardest. How can anyone who claims to be a Liberal support such a tax, on television sets, to fund a state broadcaster which threatens people with fines and imprisonment.

    £145 a year is nothing to a champagne socialist millionaire but is a lot to someone on or below the minimum wage. The BBC is the dinosaur in the media room. Let it stand on its own two feet and raise money via subscription and/or advertising like all other media companies. Whatever Murdoch’s faults, he does not force you to watch or pay for his output.

    The LibDems should be leading the campaign to abolish the telly tax

  • toryboysnevergrowup 7th Mar '11 - 1:15pm

    You have to ask yourselves the question why Vince Cable felt he was in a “war” with Maxwell (although his subsequent behaviour suggests a man of limited principles). Could I also suggest that you read “Stick it up your punter” and then try and argue that Murdoch’s influence has not been pernicious.

  • Of course Liberals should have nothing to fear from murdoch.

    When you roll on your back with all four limbs in the air that’s the classic surrender position and hopefully you won’t be attacked by your Tory masters. After all it’s worked so far with every policy thats been forthcoming …

  • toryboysnevergrowup 7th Mar '11 - 2:25pm

    “I wasn’t suggesting that Murdoch isn’t pernicious, just that if you knock him down he will be replaced by somebody just as bad or worse”

    Everything that is pernicious should be knocked down regardless of whether it will be replaced or not – the more time these things are in place the worse they get. As Vince used to say it is a “war”.

  • @Axe the telly tax

    Get rid of the license fee and we will have the inferior broadcasting provision that they have in the United States and other countries where there is no generously funded public service broadcasting. A friend of mine lives in the states and constantly complains about how much he misses the quality programmes provided by the BBC. You don’t realise what you’ve got until its gone. One other thing, I loathe everything that Murdoch stands for so I would never pay his shilling. I was delighted to hear that Cable had made war on Murdoch but his ignoble retreat from principle is disgraceful. He should now resign

  • toryboysnevergrowup 7th Mar '11 - 4:38pm

    All those complaing about the Telly Tax perhaps ought to compare the cost of Sky with that of the licence fee (c£50 per month for the full Sky package). I now which offers the better quality – hundreds of channels of drivel is still drivel.

  • I see no Iceberg 7th Mar '11 - 7:48pm

    When the Murdoch press turns it’s fire on the Liberal Democrats at the next election this decision is going to come back to haunt Clegg.

  • No-one has yet explained to me how Murdoch having more control of sports channels and Sky Atlantic and less control over Sky News is a bad thing.

  • @ I see no Iceberg

    “When the Murdoch press turns it’s fire on the Liberal Democrats at the next election”

    As opposed to last time, eh?

    The real problem is BBC bias over cuts stories and also e.g. repeating the lies of NO to AV with their preposterous £250m claim.

  • Ed The Snapper 9th Mar '11 - 7:58am

    Telly Tax is a cheek. Making people pay the equivalent of 3 weeks JSA in order to pay for soap operas, reality TV and crummy gameshows. If thre must be a public service broadcaster then let it show news and documentaries funded by a minimal tax and democratically controlled by the electorate.

  • Am I missing something about the ‘telly tax’? I for one haven’t paid it in years because I don’t have a telly. If people can’t afford it, they do have a pretty obvious solution available.

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