January 26, 2011
Does UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt believe the Murdoch buy-out of BSkyB is “against the public interest in media plurality”?
Will the competitions commission review do anything more than delay the merger?
This would be more of a cliffhanger if we didn’t already know that Murdoch has been spooning with the Tories since the run-up to the last general election.
On the one hand, Murdoch is feeding billions of much needed capital into the media industry and as a former journalist myself, I have to accept that a monopolised media industry is better than no media industry at all.
Besides, according to the latest Ofcom report on media consumption, the majority of the UK population gets its news from the BBC (37%), a run, but not controlled source of news, which in theory regulates media objectivity.
But I can’t shake the notion that the 22% hold Murdoch will have if the merger goes ahead does go against the public interest. Murdoch is not backwards in coming forwards with political allegiance or agenda; a rose by any other name would be called propaganda.
Many fingers have pointed at the internet for contributing towards the media industry’s downfall, but if you look to The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, a reliance on advertising has done more damage to newspapers than the distribution of news online ever did.
If anything, the internet is the one thing that can keep journalism in the public interest.
There will always be critically minded people who trawl the internet for several perspectives on a single news story. As long as those people are socially active and share what they find across micro blogging platforms like Twitter; there will always be a constant stream of media plurality.
The Murdoch merger may be inevitable, but there’s no reason why we can’t put the public interests of journalism into the hands of the public.