Published on 13 Jul 2011

BSkyB bid withdrawn – but can Murdoch still win?

We are in uncharted waters. In my working lifetime I have never known the Opposition Party to put down a motion in the House of Commons, which the Government of the day decides then to endorse and vote for. Today is therefore likely to prove an historic day in which MPs will bind together on behalf the nation they represent to call upon a commercial entity to end its endeavour to take over another.

Two nights ago on Channel 4 News, Michael Wolff, Rupert Murdoch’s biographer, declared that the tycoon “does not explain, he speaks power to power.” With tonight’s vote that power in UK political terms, is spent. Every ounce of political capital is spent. No senior political figure will entertain him, rare will be the politician who even takes a phone call.

See my interview with Michael Wolff: Rupert Murdoch facing ‘end game’

One of my most informed sources – who combines politics with a significant high-level international business life, tells me that despite all this, Mr Murdoch “will be absolutely determined to continue with his company News Corp’s bid to take over BSkyB. Even if it involves sacking his son James and his protégé Rebekah Brooks.” My source added that eventually it might even involve his own “moving upstairs” to become the non executive President of News Corp. But Murdoch’s determination, my source adds, is that he will get BSkyB.

Ranged against this dynamic, and beyond the “voice of the people” expressed on the floor of the Commons, is the police investigation into the hacking scandal. Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers told MPs yesterday that her team “will examine criminal liability at board level, in due course” – adding that the “New management of News International (the News Corps subsidiary that owned the News of the World) has not been helping as much as she had hoped”.

Enter US Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chair of the prestigious Senate Commerce Committee. He has been scandalised by reports that the NoW had private detectives hack the phones of families of 9/11 victims. He is calling for an investigation his side of the Atlantic. Wire tapping, hacking and the rest are viewed far more seriously in America.

Set against this that Rupert Murdoch remains one of the most successful corporate operatives the planet has ever known. His family’s wealth within News Corps, despite market falls that have cost them (according to today’s FT) three quarters of a billion dollars, remains in the many billions. BSkyB is a vastly profitable entity in and of itself. Hence, the Murdoch empire’s interest in securing all of it. With 152 subsidiaries already and the brilliant use of legal tax havens, News Corps pays only 20 per cent corporate tax in the US as opposed to the normal 35 per cent. The Economist reported in 1999 that since 1987, News International had paid no net corporation tax in the UK on £1.4bn profits. Make no mistake, this is a company that combines desirable commercial content with a keen eye for hanging on to its profits. 100 per cent ownership of BSkyB would augment that handsomely.

The issue is finely balanced and may take years to resolve. But irrespective of how many MPs vote against the take over, Rupert Murdoch can, and very possibly will still win, however bloodied by the battles – criminal, legal, political and corporate, to come.

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78 reader comments

  1. Tanya Spooner says:

    The situation of all three political parties banding together in disapproval is very cheering for the citizens of the UK, but surely it has very little clout in commercial terms. This whole episode is a pure example of what Karl Marx called “capitalism having within it the seeds of its own destruction” in populist terms. People live happily in capitalist societies, enjoying their comforts and ignoring the poor, until the monied ranks wield their power in a manner which really causes offence. Nobody had been much concerned by tax avoidance by members of the powerful business community until we were all suddenly losing our jobs and finding our incomes unimaginably stretched. Now that the whole thing is appearing to run out of control, in terms of the rich and the poor, people who happily bought the The Sun and the News of the World are waking up to the viper that has been nurtured in their bosoms, but in a way, it’s too late, the damage, in terms of corporate laaw and business protectionism, has been done, and institutionalised.

    1. Moonbeach says:

      To quote the loser and muddled thinker Karl Marx weakens your case. Try substituting communism for capitalism and the quote remains true!

      At least under capitalism there is a chance that law breakers may receive a fair trial. Unlike the followers of Marx where the dictatorships of the proletariats massacred millions in the name of socialism.

      But I do agree with the remainder of your comments. Murdoch and his Corporation should be punished harshly if they are guilty of crimes.

      But then so should guilty policemen, fraudulent businessmen, bankers and so on. I have no idea, however, how we can motivate our representatives to do what the majority of us want.

      How did so many MPs avoid prosecution?

      Too many of us seem to hold views of tradition (I would never vote for them!) rather than relying on analysis for our vote.

  2. un named says:

    Surely as the head of a corporation involved in illegal activities[no doubt about that ]he will be liable for prosecution.

  3. Saltaire Sam says:

    Yet another man who doesn’t pay his tax who, until last week, was lauded by politicians.

    Why don’t they come clean and admit that tax paying is only for lower echelons and certainly not for anyone who has power or who is a major funder of political parties. Indeed the simple equation is he that has the most pays the least.

    What a wonderful system: people like Rupert Murdoch don’t pay their taxes so there’s not enough money to pay public servants who lose their jobs. The same Rupert Murdoch gets into trouble in his attempt to make himself even more billions, so he sacks 200 people who didn’t cause the problem.

    There has to be a better way.

    1. Peter Stewert says:

      There was a better way Sam, but because vanishingly few people alive today lived through the crashes and rushes of the 1930s (and those that did are likely being abused in a care home as you read this) so the reasons against naked capitalism are now doubted. We’ve also apparently lost the wisdom of Baldwin and the harlots.

      Thankfully we do remember the lessons of nationalistic fascism and are not seeing a return of that…

    2. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire,and Peter,tax avoidance to which many of us allude to in different blogs is an excellent subject for debate in its own blog.It is certainly harder for the little business man or ordinary individual to avoid tax and they are chased harder by the authorities as the easier target.
      Having said that(and it isnt just NI )the tax avoidance by the large conglomerates is perfectly legal.It is successive goverments failures to close the tax loopholes,that is the problem.Nothing to do with “naked capitalism”, whatever that is!!!and the better way Peter ????

    3. Peter Stewert says:

      Apologies for the tease Adrian, and all others, but I was thinking how a generation that survived the worst crash of the 20th century and then a bloody global war had the motivation to not see either happen again. and to their credit they probably never did see it anywhere near as bad in their lifetimes.

      Somewhere between the 1930s and the 1980s the political classes (first on the right, then on the Nu-left, and finally with the orange-liberals) came to believe that governments can do no right, and that they especially don’t understand economics. Whether true or just politicians feeling self-pity matters not, because the poblem was the reaction that saw government increasingly trying to do nothing and just giving up altogether and hopping that a free market alone will be enough. Regulation became a shorter and ruder word. Such thinking was and is stupid, because even Adam Smith* argued for the vital role of intervention against the market:

      (the important Smith quote is in the first paragraph… and sorry for getting out the chomsky so soon after the last link)

    4. adrian clarke says:

      Peter a very interesting article , but Chomsky a an avowed Jewish anarchist, describing himself as an anarcho syndicalist and libertarian socialist, being an intellectual writer of over 150 books,doesnt his wealth make him something he doesnt ascribe to be.Just like some bloggers on here :)

  4. Philip Edwards says:


    “Successful corporate operative” isn’t the phrase I would use. “The Australian who became and American and then a “born-again Christian” to get his hands on US media,” is a bit more accurate.

    Also, I suppose it hinges on how you define “successful.” In Murdoch’s case I would define it as tax-dodging, life-ruining, porn-peddling, responsibility-declaiming, profits-ripping, victim-blaming, thug-employing, extreme right wing, police-bribing, phone-hacking, tenth-rate spivvery. The only thing missing is an Essex track suit and chewing gum accompanied by an incomprehensible cockney accent – you know, a bit like Kelvin Mackenzie.

    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Tories waved through Murdoch ownership of BSkyB. I’ve been forecasting it long enough. It is in Brit Establishment interests for Murdoch to succeed in the TV medium in place of dying newsprint. That is why they financed him when he was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 80s and early 90s (see “Murdoch The Great Escape” by Richard Belfield [1991]).

    Murdoch’s just the latest Gordon Gekko. There will be others. Nothing is surer. Decent politicians would stop them. But we don’t have decent political leaders.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Another forecast totally wrong then Philip!!!!What is your forecast for “Sky” if Murdoch pulls out completely.Despite your rhetoric he saved it from extinction and provided thousands of jobs worldwide throughout his empire.
      The problem was not his but politicians who rather than govern in the countries interest,sought his favours opening themselves up to all sorts of allegations,including GB for all his posturing

  5. adrian clarke says:

    That is a powerful statement Jon “Ranged against this dynamic, and beyond the “voice of the people” expressed on the floor of the Commons,”
    Where is the referendum or poll to say this is the “voice of the people” It is certainly the voice of the alternative media to NI.
    The BBC , Channel 4,The Guardian,all rubbing their hands with glee.
    I would advise those bloggers who jumped on the Brown bandwagon yesterday to beware writing libel and to read todays Sun,including the following editorial comment
    “Those same papers now sanctimoniously baying for the Sun’s blood , gave Frazers condition massive coverage themselves.They include The Guardian,Daily Telegraph,Daily Mirror and Daily Mail,What hypocracy they have shown.”
    The issue here should be to seek out those responsible for the phone hacking,and unless and until it can be solidly and totally proved it was the executive of NI i see no reason that they should not take over Sky.
    It is interesting to note that the main Labour instigators of this motion are Brown supporters who can not forgive NI for deserting Labour.

    1. sue_m says:

      Adrian – take a quick straw poll of the posts on the many blogs related to this scandal. There’s the voice of the people.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      Sue i do better than that , i take a straw poll of the people around here,and the overwhelming majority detest the hacking.They believe the culprits should be taken to court,but they are not against either NI or its titles.Proof of that is all my NOW readers want the Sun if it is published on Sunday.
      As for bloggers ,on here and most other sites they are the core of the left and Guardian readers with a few of us Tories as was commented when i started blogging .I am afraid though we would wish to be so called we are not the voice of the people.Most of those are the silent majority who sit and watch and let events pass them by.That is why we do not have ,nor are likely to get a true democracy.
      Even more amazing is that they may be silent and many not vote , but they reject the views of the Guardian and Independent, in favour of the Mail,Telegraph and Sun.Just as those that do vote reject the politics of the left

    3. sue_m says:

      Adrian I’m afraid i need proof that a poll of ‘people around here’ (who is that exactly – you, your partner and a couple of mates?) is ‘better’ than reading blogs. Both seem somewhat unscientific.
      I don’t think Jon implied that people were against individual NI titles but that parliament calling for full inquiries was a rare moment when they were in tune with what ordinary people want.
      Your own poll re the titles proves nothing beyond the calibre of newspaper your circle prefers to read. It doesnt even reveal their politic views as you imply. People of all political colours plus the non-political silent majority read papers like the Sun and the Mail because they like the titillation and gossip or the story-telling style rather than the broadsheets which make slightly more demand on ones brain cells. It may surprise you Adrian but not everyone bases all their purchasing decisions on whether they are (to use your words) leftists or right-wing.
      As for the laughable comment about those that vote rejecting the politics of the left – I seem to remember that the last election resulted in no-one winning as voters rejected politics full stop.

    4. adrian clarke says:

      Sue said with the arrogance i am coming to expect .My poll is from the community newspaper for two large peakland villages ,i run with my partner,consisting of about 500 hundred customers,two thirds of the alpha class.The bulk of my sales are mail and telegraph followed by the tabloids with approx ten guardians and four independents.It is a delivery only service as we have no shop , and i see most of my customers weekly.It is a very high class area.
      Your comments were not Jon’s .It was your arrogance in suggesting i do not know what i am talking about in relation to the media.You remind me very much of teachers i have come into contact with.Arrogant and no knowledge of the real world.

    5. sue_m says:

      Arrogant and with no knowledge of the real world?

      That might be insulting if it wasn’t coming from a man who presumes his customers are right wing because of the paper they read and then refers to the said ‘right-wingers’ as Alpha class and high class.

  6. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    You see he is only rated 13th most powerful person in the world and 117th richest and lets face it that is not the winner. There can only be one winner.
    Buying The Wall st journal probably gave him more power than some of the TV or internet interests. SO THEY PLAY THEIR GAME , BUT WE ALL DIE.

  7. Paul Kerton says:

    As it stands, I believe the only way he will get BSkyB is by removing himself, his son, Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton from his company.

    The big danger is that he turns Sky News into another Fox News, which he has in the past said he would like to see.

    If News Corp were to take over Sky completely, then before any takeover were to take place, impartiality laws should be reviewed and tightened. It’s already bad enough with a certain Miss Burley on air!

  8. Paddy says:

    “The issue is finely balanced and may take years to resolve”

    Rupert Murdoch is 80. How does this factor in to this analysis?

    1. Roger Bater says:

      Quite right. A related factor is that his faculties cannot be so sharp as they were say twenty years ago. If all this hoo ha had happened when he was younger, it might have been better handled. Instead, the situation drifted because either he didn’t realise how serious it was or it was a case of the dithers.

      So many very powerful people just wont’ let go when Mother Nature is screaming “Retire!”

  9. Jim says:

    How could they (conservatives) do otherwise?
    Mr Cameron is definately playing catch up on this whole issue.

  10. tthurts says:

    Murdoch has been playing a waiting game for years.

    Jeremy Hunt allowed the deferral of the BSkyb bid for over six months – after years of negotiations and consultation – to the great amusement of Private Eye readers.

    What I’ve noticed is that news is a short-term thing. Very, very quickly, the public soon forget all about the outrage, the facts and crimes and it’s business as usual. Politicians pick up on public empathy and also return to agenda which morally, may not be on the highest ground.

    It’s probably fair to say, once all this has blown over, the status quo will remain the same.

  11. Meg Howarth says:

    ‘With…brilliant use of legal tax havens, News Corps pays only 20% corporate tax in the US as opposed to the normal 35%. The Economist reported in 1999 that since 1987, News International had paid no net UK corporation tax [CT] on £1.4 bn profits. Make no mistake, this is a company that combines desirable commercial content with a keen eye for hanging on to its profits. 100% ownership of BSkyB would augment that handsomely.’

    There it is in an egg-shell, to which the following egs can be added: Barclay’s 2009 paid only £113m UK CT on global profits of £12bn & a £1.2bn divi to Philip Green’s Monaco-resident wife, on which no UK tax payable: NB What are you doing @Treasury & Public Accounts Select Cmmttees re legal but unethical corporate tax avoidance?

    So to your last para: ‘…irrespective of how many MPs vote against the take over, Murdoch can, and very possibly will still win’. Not if we realise that the kind of democracy we get is up to us, that the PM’s telling ‘leadership by explanation’ definition at last week’s long-ago press conference gives the game away: politicos rule, we, the serfs, listen. No! Not in C21. We can participate. It’s up to us.

  12. Chris W says:

    I can see why Murdoch wants Sky. The orgaisation charges broadcasters to access their platform. Charges customers to access programming through their box. Charges other distributors to distribute their programming and also raised revenue through advertising and program sponsorship.
    It is a licence to print money. But is the tide about to turn?

    His newspaper business may be suffering by falling readership as we cherry pick our sources from smaller and more trustworthy sources (The Scotsman & Nursing times). Where we are lead to stories by news aggregators and trusted sources on twitter.

    Increasingly we no longer live by a broadcast schedule watching recorded and on demand content. It appears that we are moving towards a Monocasting plaform in Television as we have been in Music.

    Will Sky adapt to this or will it be another MySpace.

  13. Tom Wright says:

    The tax evasion is staggering. Can we have an analysis of how much Murdoch costs each and every UK household? We must pay more to enable him to pay nothing.

    Have a pop at Google while you’re at it – seems to me that one of the primary drivers for being global is tax avoidance.

    My bet is that all time high in UK personal taxes – and all that means in terms of disposable income and economic strength – is down to falling tax receipts from ‘global’ companies.

    1. Peter Stewert says:

      It is a one-two-punch that has had the UK off-balance for a decade or two (so yes Labour did just sit back and whistle). Income tax for PAYE-suckers is the tax base of this country at the moment, but since living standards have been falling for forty years it isn’t much of a base to fund the running of the country. And in bad times this all gets worse because PAYE-suckers lose their job(s) and companies can (entrely legally) tell the HMG treasury that they are dealing with huge loses while reporting huge profits to the market. I’d wonder if any large business in the UK contributes any taxes beyond what their employees can never avoid paying.

      The tax evasion (well technically avoidance) is grossly irresponsible. Another global company, say Amazon, can argue that they can avoid tax if they keep their warehouses outside the UK, but they depend upon the infrastructure in the UK being there otherwise no one in the UK would buy what Amazon could not reasonable deliver. Do keep the incentive for players, but we need to make sure everyone is taxed fairly to keep the game going.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      Peter a very sound analysis,and although LVT would ensure that individual land owners could not get away with tax avoidance, it does nothing to ensure the great multinationals pay a reasonable tax to the UK economy.They will always find ways to avoid a compsny tax by passing it on to the consumer.In a global market place it will always be difficult to pin them down

  14. Dizzy Dave says:

    “Rupert will still win”.
    Why so defeatist? All Channel Four blogs seem to think he will get away with it. It takes a lot to motivate ordinary people but noone will ever forget or forgive what was done to Milly Dowler.
    Out of interest are there any circulation figures for other News International papers in the last week, how many Sky subscriptions have been cancelled and how many advertisers have pulled out? That is what will finish this.

    1. Marverde says:

      I agree with you and with Meg above. I’ll repeat what I said the other day. If money is the source of all corruption, reverse it. “Do a Liverpool” country-wide, global-wide, and the stench of corruption reduces dramatically.

      Stop buying their papers, their services, their products and they die of starvation.

      Stop voting for them, and they cannot get a foot in government.

      Now that Parliament has been FORCED to finally act on this corruption, it is essential that we spread the debate and full “transparency” to the Treasury and financial sector: demand criminal proceedings against bankers and the highest CT for the highest profits. Let’s focus our anger on Osborne’s enormous social guilt and demand that no services be closed, no person sacked, no pension robbed, no NHS privatised till the finacial sector is fully investigated, the guilty have been prosecuted and sent to prison and all private companies, no matter how small or big, pay their dues on any profit made. And make the use of tax havens illegal.

  15. Meg Howarth says:

    NewsCorps drops BSkyB bid:

    From the Guardian, I’m afraid, Adrian, but I did see it first on FT online.

  16. Terri says:

    Your last sentence worried me Jon . . . if murdoch and co face legal charges . .surely he will never be able to buy more shares in BskyB . . . or will he?

  17. Philip Edwards says:


    So now the bid is withdrawn, but NOT abandoned. When Murdoch says he will not proceed and will sell his existing 39% ownership we might be at the start of something. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    This fellow and his ilk must be driven from our public life never to return. Let him and his culpable employees try to make an honest living and pay fair taxes like everybody else is obliged to.

    I repeat, what matters is the next six months, uncovering of the FULL facts, and an honest vigorous inquiry to make recommendations on legal protection of standards and GENUINE plurality of ownership. For the latter, the inquiry Terms of Reference are crucial: they must be all-inclusive and without any weasel words, which is the way the Brit Establishment usually squirm away from responsibility.

    Furthermore, it must include an examination of media connections and influence on what’s left of our democracy via politicians and policemen. Watching the evasions yesterday of Met policemen Blair, Yates and Hayman was even more disturbing than many of us guessed it would be. One of the committee even dubbed Hayman “a dodgy geezer.”

    There is still a long, long way to go before the cancer is gone.

  18. Noel Bell says:

    Has he abandoned his plans? Game, set and match to Tom Watson MP?

  19. Saltaire Sam says:

    Congratulations to Alex Thompson, the families of the pilots and the rest of the people who have cleared their names.

    At a time when the Murdoch empire has brought journalism into an unfavourable spotlight, it’s good to acknowledge the work of people like C4News and Nick Davies on the Guardian who show the trade at its best.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire the Guardian,may or not have been involved in hacking, Who knows?
      The pilots were not cleared by the Guardian or the Sun who campaigned long and hard for them,and certainly not Alex Thompson or Nick Davies but by an enquiry commissioned by the government.After so many whitewashes in the late Conservative years and through all the Labour years justice has finally been done.
      Your left wing bias is shown at its best with those comments.:)

    2. Saltaire Sam says:

      Adrian, you are so caught up in your self-image as a bit of old grit, that you are beginning to lose your way.

      For days you have berated bloggers and anyone else you could think of for the use of allegedly to cover the lack of evidence. yet you are willing to suggest the Guardian may have been involved in hacking without a shred of evidence other than the fact that you dislike its political stance.

      Doesn’t logic (I assume you believe in logic?) suggest that one of the reasons the Guardian has felt able to chase this story – ignored, it should be noted by most other papers – is because they know they are clean?

      You then malign the efforts of those who have supported the campaign of the pilots’ families, claiming it was all down to the wonderful government. Do you really believe they would have held a new commission without the pressure exerted by the families, some MPs and journalists like Alex? Don’t be so mean spirited.

      To be an effective bit of grit, you really need a coherent set of beliefs and values, not just a knee jerk reaction against what the Guardian says.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire,i can not understand ,how you can put so much belief in the power of the least read newspaper by two.It is slightly infront of the Independent and Socialist Worker
      My suggestion that Guardian may have been involved in hacking or used PI’s who use hacking or even used hacked material unknowingly or not is a general, but unproven statement,that they and all other titles are in the same boat.
      It is very naieve to believe one PI working for one newspaper was the only person so engaged.If it is as easy as stated and information is required ,who knows.There have been PI’s interviewed on both radio and TV who have virtually admitted hacking.
      I find your belief that the Guardian is pure as the driven snow very appealing,but remember most snow turns to slush.(no pun intended Jon)
      As to the campaign for the families of the aircrew it is yourself who is mean spirited Saltaire by suggesting it is down to so few.The Sun which you despise campaigned long and just as hard as anyone else.

  20. dan ehrlich says:

    Her may have stopped his bid now, but he may be back. However, with this scandal now crossing the Atlantic, Murdoch has damage conrtol on his mind not further aquisitions.

    Another curious aspect to the ever-widening UK phone hacking scandal is why so far only two arrests have been made.

    It is because the enormity and gravity of this growing fiasco, where thousands of illegal acts have allegedly been perpetrated by News International staff, that the cops haven’t been able to get their act together, investigating less than 200?

    Or is it because the police themselves are so entwined in some of these criminal acts they’re embarrassed to make more aggressive moves until they cover their own rears? One of the newer revelations is that the police officers assigned to investigate the hacking found that their own phones were being hacked.

    Meanwhile, the ageing warrior and one of the last great old school tycoons Murdoch, 80, is probably realizing he’s not the man he once was to allow his subordinates, in whom he placed such enormous trust, to transform the golden goose into a southern fried chicken.

  21. Mudplugger says:

    There is no defence for any tax evasion (or ‘avoidance’ if you’re slippery enough), just as there is no defence for the sort of behaviour revealed about the press, politicians and, most shockingly, the ever-corruptible Met Police.

    However, let’s not forget that all Murdoch’s products are voluntary purchases. No-one is forced to subscribe to Sky, to buy the Sun or the Times. This is quite different from the mandatory payment, extracted by state threats of imprisonment, for the BBC (and Channel 4 too).

    Murdoch single-handedly created a competitor broadcaster, risking huge sums to do so, and with no advance knowledge that enough people could be persuaded to pay ‘extra’ for different TV. That it succeeded was a commercial masterstroke.

    His achieving such perceived power that our politicians felt the need to crawl for his crumbs of favour probably tells us more about our politicians than it does about Murdoch.

    Murdoch fits the mould of media tycoons for generations; Hearst, Beaverbrook, Maxwell, Black, the Barclays, the Harmsworths – he is probably no better nor worse, simply more successful on a wider canvas.

    But I wouldn’t buy a second-hand car from him.

  22. adrian clarke says:

    Oh what a day.The over reaction of Parliament , because they think it will make them look good in the eyes of the public.
    The posturing of the sycophant Brown,who having virtually been called a liar by the Sun , changed his attack.Cameron trying to look tough , ordering an enquiry and saying witnesses will give evidence under oath.Where is the enquiry into the bankers ,who have nearly wrecked our economy.Where was the evidence under oath to the Iraq enquiry?.Or the kelly enquiry?
    What about the MP’s expenses.
    Basically, although the hacking saga is an absolute disgrace,it is a criminal enquiry and one into possible police corruption,but it pales into insignificance alongside iraq, the banks and our legislators ,in the eyes of the general public.
    Most of my contacts regret the loss of the NOW.Most media representatives seem to be delighting in the troubles of NI.
    Even on here , three different blogs about it!!!!! when the Euro is on its knees,the banks still not lending and getting away with their criminality.Our debt double what was forecast,yet Labour still riding high in the polls.Perhaps we might as well have a government controlled media,because it is coming ever closer.

    1. Peter Stewert says:

      You are right to be concerned Adrian, it isn’t smart to just sit back and chuckle at revenge being delivered against the bullying press (which isn’t all the press, but it is enough). The press have had more than enough scandals and second-chances and decades to sort themselves out, and if the press (all comers) hadn’t joined in a group kicking of the BBC by the UK establishment over Gilligan I might have some sympathy. However, the BBC (while never much of one to rock boats) hasn’t been turned in to anyone’s mouth piece*, and even more heartening (though for less than pure reasons) is the super-injunction fiasco.

      We have been let down by a free print-press that is happy to attack politicians, celebrities, and grieving relatives. A free press would have ensured we got an enquiry in to the banking near-collapse, that we didn’t get blood on our hands because of a dodgey-dossier. We’d do better if the press investigated themselves, investigated CEOs, and all the other powerful groups. This should be looked upon as an opportunity and not a burden to the press.

      * though the overall standard of news remains poor (excepting C4)

  23. Saltaire Sam says:

    Great quote from Michael White today: ‘It’s a funny old world when the Telegraph’s commercial interest in blocking Murdoch has to be rescued by the muesli-eaters at the Guardian via the phone-hacking exposé.’

    On another, but related, issue. We are hearing a great deal from Mr Cameron et al about plurality in the media. Does that mean he is planning to do something about the complete inbalance between papers of the right (Times, S Times, Telegraph, S Telegraph, Sun, soon to be Sun on Sunday, Express, Mail on Sunday (extreme), Mail Ieven more extreme) etc etc) and those of the left (Guardian, Mirror and Observer)

    Perhaps it is time for a newspaper version of the BBC or C4News, parlty paid for by taxpayers but charged with a duty of balance and lack of bias.

    (Sorry, Adrian, that last sentence should be Trotsky-ite, left wing ragbag)

    1. adrian clarke says:

      It is an interesting idea you put Saltaire,but read your own words and doesn’t it tell you something?
      You list the so called titles of the right (not all one stable of course),but the main National sellers and those of the left.
      Doesn’t the sales figures alone tell you that this is a country that clearly supports the right and rejects the left.It has nothing to do with bias.It is in Sue’s words “the voice of the people”

    2. sue_m says:

      I refer you to a previous reply Adrian – your wishful thinking that the voice of the people is supportive of the right and rejects the left is fantasy.
      The last election saw all party politics rejected (or all supported depending on your views on how much turnout counts) as there was no clear winner. Certainly the right wingers didn’t win as many LibDem voters would have voted Labour if they had been able to predict their own party getting into bed with the Tories.
      What a ridiculous assertion about newspaper sales. Sales volumes have more to do with the level of intelligence of reader than political persuasion. And of course what headline and sports news they carry on any given day.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Sue i now understand your blogs.You believe you are better than over 80%of the country based on the newspaper you read.What a disgraceful statement.

    4. sue_m says:

      Adrian, Disgraceful is being arrogant enough to assume you know better than someone else what is going on in their thoughts. You consistently do that in response to my posts and others. You frequently state your assumptions about me which have no basis in fact. Mostly i let those assumptions pass as they say far more about you than me and are often quite comic.

      A very predictable response from you Adrian but I stand by my belief that more intelligent and/or educated people tend to choose the more intellectual papers. I have never linked that to them being better or worse than anyone else – funny how you make that link though. What does it say about your own prejudices?

    5. adrian clarke says:

      Sue, so anyone reads any paper , but not for political reasons.I can go along with that, but the point i was answering was Saltaire’s about left and right wing titles.
      However i find it a disgraceful suggestion that because you read the Guardian , you are more intellectual than anyone else.
      If that is the case one must suppose that the Tory cabinet are all Guardian readers and most of the Shadow cabinet Mirror readers.
      “A very predictable response from you Adrian but I stand by my belief that more intelligent and/or educated people tend to choose the more intellectual papers. I have never linked that to them being better or worse than anyone else – funny how you make that link though. What does it say about your own prejudices?”
      If the more educated/intelligent read the intellectual papers , how can you say that doesn’t, in your opinion , make them better.
      My prejudices???I treat everyone the same, and believe everyone is as good as anyone else.
      You clearly do not!!!!

  24. Meg Howarth says:

    Here’s how Murdoch gets away without paying tax:

    ‘Tax haven abuse costs the UK government £16 billion per year – Telegraph‘ – guess you trust the Telegraph, Adrian.

    ‘Oh what a web they weave…’ – sorry, can’t even remember poet (Blake?) let alone ending. It’s C21 and time for change.

    Bravo to Caroline Lucas for shaming Commons Public Accounts Committee’s lack of action on same as reported in link posted on previous comment above.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Meg, i no more trust the Telegraph than i trust any other paper, be they right or left wing.My ideas and politics are not based on any newspaper or newspaper article.You may note that my opinions are not accompanied by any newspaper quote.Why? Because like it or not they all have their own agenda,pandering to their paticular often limited clientel.That goes for the rest of the media too.
      That is why i can support extreme right wing ideas and left wing ones if i believe them to be sound.
      Why i can call for the heads of bankers and support your ideas of LVT.Occasionally agree with Saltaire but want the death penalty.Even agree with Marverde and Sue on occasions when they can forget their hatred of the right and the Tories.
      I describe myself as hard right , because i believe in apt punishment for crimes ,and that Britain comes before Europe, the European Community or the Euro.
      I could if it were workable ,but i know it is not, support true communism ,for in its ideal state all would be equal and it would be a true democracy.A Utopian idea completely unworkable unless we all become computer programmed.For the same reason Marxism and communism are unworkable,without brainwashing.

    2. Marverde says:

      Oh what a tangled web we weave,
      When first we practise to deceive!

      Walter Scott (googled, not remembered!)

    3. Meg Howarth says:

      Cheers, Marverde. Must confess have never read Scott though probably should.

  25. Marverde says:

    Dear Jon and Channel4,

    The UK is living through what we hope could be tremendous moments of regeneration to rid ourselves of some of the corruption of the Establishment. It is understandable that everybody is excited by this (new!) and so is eager to contribute/share her/his thoughts.

    But it is not right that more than half the emails I receive about new posts seem to come from the same person, who disjointedly feels the need to reply and re-reply to every single post made by others. Would it be possible to restrict the NUMBER of postings per person, same way as you already restrict the number of characters per post? It would apply to all of us, so perfectly democratic.

    I like to read Jon’s blog and think many comments make interesting points, and not just those I agree with. I would love to continue doing so but it is becoming a pain.

    Just a thought.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Ah marverde , the restriction of opposition in the hope of not being disagreed with.So nicely put.

  26. jfreos says:

    “Early in 1982, ten months after he had taken over The Times and The Sunday Times, Rupert Murdoch went to see the Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher. They shared a problem: it was me. I was editor of The Times and Murdoch’s difficulty was how to dispose of me.”

    ‘Good Times, Bad Times’, Harold Evans (Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, 1983)

    Fast forward 30 years…it might be Rupert’s turn.

    Harold Evans was a brave and conscientious editor of The Sunday Times when it was a great, compelling and fearless Fleet Street newspaper. Among his achievements are the creation and dynamic development of their investigative team, Insight. Using energy and talent on behalf of children stricken by latent effects of the toxic Thalidomide drug – a sleeping pill that pregnant mothers had used before the children were born, resulting in limbless babies and many hundreds with chronic deformities – the Insight Team exposed and challenged the pitiful compensation that families involved had received. It also sought to inform readers of the objective, evidence based realities of how the pharmaceutical company that manufactured and distributed the Thalidomide drug reacted to the terrible and delayed reaction of their monstrous and widely used pill. Within the scope of their investigation was intense examination and analysis of the legal machinations on this intergenerational disaster – the position of the Courts and the paucity of the advocacy on behalf of the prescribed poison’s victims. Evans and his staff were driven by the magnitude of their sense of professionalism and responsibility to society. They were acting solely in the public good and in the unadulterated pursuit of justice and recompense for suffering children and parents.

    Fast forward 30 years and we’re at another turning point. The demise of The News of The World and the circumstances of its destruction are a continuation of the process that Murdoch set in motion back in ’82 with his acquisition of the Times broadsheets and subsequent dismissal of Harold Evans. That such towering newspapers succumbed to substantially diminished credibility, authenticity and authority was an incremental, and at times subtle, process. Murdoch had an agenda of intense engagement and promotion of both Thatcher in the UK and ‘showbiz Ron’ in the US, and Evans did not fit this mould, this new realpolitik. Would Evans have allowed the Insight Team to become cheerleaders for Milton Friedman and run away, unchecked corporate power? I think not.

    Would Harold Evans have allowed The Sunday Times to obfuscate and mislead over Iran Contra and ignore the systematic destruction of the Roosevelt and Beveridge initiated social reforms in public health and education – defining elements of the social contract of the post WW2 era? Well, ask the victims of Thalidomide.

    At one end of the chronology is analysis, context and enquiry; at the other…propaganda, churnalism and the stench of sleaze. Hope versus fear. We deserve the former.

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Excellent informative post. Thank you.

  27. Philip Edwards says:


    As the exposure of the Murdochs and their corrupting influence gathers pace, here’s a suggestion:

    Why not interview Kelvin Mackenzie and Andrew Neill and ask them some pertinent questions?

    After all, somebody set the low level for this disgusting corruption, and they were in at the start of Murdoch’s assault on our culture and democracy. These two should have an idea how the corruption took seed. Not, of course, that I am suggesting they had any part in it…………..

  28. Saltaire Sam says:

    Now here’s a thought. It is generally accepted that NI newspapers were not the only tabloids involved in phone hacking, so I wonder if any of the others have been listening in to the msssages of Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch.

    Wouldn’t they be revealing!

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Probably the case Saltaire ,but you would want them prosecuted ,of course:)
      Seriously though,or though i know not how,I understand all phones come with the same code so if you know the number access is easy.Each individual should change that code,but i don’t believe we are told that or how to do it.I certainly don’t know.

  29. adrian clarke says:

    Just watched the headlines on BBC re the Murdoch’s and Brookes attending parliament on Tuesday.
    What a complete farce.They are not going to implicate themselves and the questioning and answers could jeopardise any police enquiry and prosecution into those seen guilty of any offence.
    Parliament seen to be throwing its big boy weight around.
    What a pity they were/are not as robust when it comes to their own expenses, the banks etc and etc.

  30. EesyP says:

    Now that the FBI are involved, are More4 considering returning The Daily Show to the schedules? It would be a handy point of reference.

  31. GS says:

    I realise that it was another era, but consider the restrictions put on Independent Television from the mid 1950’s onwards.

    If the will is there, the Murdoch takeover of BSkyB can be stopped. If a majority of MPs consider him to be an unfit person to own a British TV company, why should Eurocrats be able to over-rule that?

    Even if a satellite company beamed TV into the UK from abroad, UK companies could be banned from advertising on its channels.

    Some “hackers” face extradition and a long prison sentence. Why should News Corp be allowed to smooth the waters and then continue with this takeover which quite obviously isn’t in the best interest of the public anyway?

  32. adrian clarke says:

    That paragon of virtue,the”Guardian” hides it’s grubby little apology to the Sun for falsly accusing them of hacking into GB’s sons medical records.
    So GB lied in his TV/radio interview about that and then further lied about his discussions and advice with the civil service over the actual hacking scandal .As grubby as the Guardian apology .
    I’m amazed it wasn’t mentioned by the Guardian readers.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      At least the Guardian has a regular section where it corrects any mistakes it has made.

      You beloved Sun only does so when it is forced to by PCC and then even more insignificantly featured, though I notice they have given greater prominence to an apology about themselves than they would for one by themselves.

      No one, as far as I know, not even the editor, would claim the Guardian is perfect but it is a very high quality newspaper and deserves credit for keeping with the hacking story when others were ignoring it.

      Your constant criticism of the Guardian is beginning to smack of insecurity. I disagree with much of the philosophy and views of the Telegraph and its columnists but acknowledge it is an excellent newspaper with professional journalists and led the way over the MPs’ expenses.

      To my mind, both it and the Guardian have a more responsible view to the news than say the Mail or Express but there will always be more sales in playing to people’s prejudices.

      Incidentally, has the Express linked Murdoch to Princess Di’s death yet!!!!

  33. Saltaire Sam says:

    So, Jon, caught you moonlighting last night on the BBC. Some excellent stuff. You should do more comment pieces (although Adrian would have been shocked that you with your lefty views and the ultra tory Michael Portillo seemed to have such agreement on so many things).

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Saltaire since when was Portillo an ultra tory?
      I don’t think i would be shocked at Jon.He admits he has a left bias.It is only his interviewing i object to.
      I respect him as a journalist and agree with many of his views.

  34. adrian clarke says:

    To my mind, both it and the Guardian have a more responsible view to the news than say the Mail or Express but there will always be more sales in playing to people’s prejudices.(telegraph)
    Almost as disgraceful astatement as Sues, insinuating that people who do not read the Guardian or maybe Telegraph are from the lower dregs of Society.
    There is no other repost needed

    1. sue_m says:

      As News Corps attempts at damage limitation look increasingly inept and more and more of this story comes to light, perhaps Adrian you will at least try to find the humility to apologise for all your rants against the Guardian – without which this would have been forgotten long ago.

      I don’t recall mentioning any dregs of society (your words) in any of my posts but, for your benefit, i would define the dregs as the criminal and corrupt element of society. You, Adrian, may consider people ‘dregs’ just because they don’t have a high IQ, good education or their politics are not what you agree with, but I do not.
      There are many many poorly educated or none too bright but nevertheless very good, caring and responsible people in society (some of them even Tories) and plenty of intelligent and well-educated people who are nevertheless evil, corrupt and irresponsible. One only has to look to the banking, political and of course certian media circles to see evidence of that.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      Ah the comment of a sue-pranatural mind,high IQ ,educated Guardian reader,who suddenly because her comments showed up in a bad light has a change of viewpoint.
      Not worthy of comment

  35. Meg Howarth says:

    A week afer David Cameron told his press conference on NOTW and hacking that ‘Democracy is leadership by explanation’, perhaps he’d explain why he hosted – and paid for – Andy Coulson at Chequers months after the latter’s resignation:

    On and on the barrel rolls, spilling its contents as it goes!

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Meg i think Cameron is a poor Tory leader but i believe he is honest.He published details of his connections.I do not see the same from Labour.
      I think there will be many revelations from this disgraceful episode.It may well collect more heads.
      The sad fact is that in the anti NI frenzy it may well destroy press freedom and the ability to hold the guilty to account.Those who find pleasure in seeing the demise of a great newspaper , because it was owned by NI may in the long term come to regret it.

  36. Jon Lee Garrett says:

    Rupert Murdocd…by the time all this investigation is done and over will be just a name to look back upon..something you may or may not want to remember in your old age. A mere thing of the past…he and his empire or over and done.

  37. Philip Edwards says:


    Here’s a thought:

    Now that Murdoch has apologised to Milly Dowler’s parents, shouldn’t he visit Liverpool and apologise personally to the families of NINETY SIX victims and others smeared and lied about by Kelvin Mackenzie in The Sun and by Andrew Neill and Edward Pearce in The Sunday Times in 1989?

    As we all know now, Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor showed in his official report of the Hillsborough disaster that Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, other policemen, Murdoch’s media and Tory politicians all lied and tried to cover up police negligence in professional marshalling to prevent overcrowding. That part of Hillsborough was notoriously unsafe and had suffered a near disaster in previous matches.

    Only now have the full records been released for the families to go through to detect who was responsible for the police lies and cover up. Their findings will be produced in due course.

    So will we see Rupert, James, Kelvin, Andrew and Edward do the honourable thing? Will Channel 4 follow up on this, arguably the VERY WORST example of Murdoch moral corruption, worse even than illegal phone hacking?


  38. Tanya Spooner says:

    Though normally a Guardian reader (much as it often irritates me) I do keep an eye on the Telegraph, The Daily Hell, The Express and the Mirror. What has surprised me in recent months has been their almost universal condemnation of the actions of David Cameron and the coalition government in general. Since the blood-thirsty antics of Blair’s “new Labour” it has become impossible for me to vote Labour ever again. I felt that the jury should be out for at least a year regarding the coalition government, but sadly, the jury is mightily disappointed with the story so far, and it looks as if voting for any political party will be completely out in the future, for me. But I don’t really perceive the press to be as right-wing as everybody here seems to think.


    As yet I have not heard on TV or read in the newspapers the comments and warning that were given about the Murdoch empire by the playwright Dennis Potter when giving his final interview with Melvyn Bragg on TV in 1994.

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Here it is, from Twitter: “I call my cancer Rupert” – Dennis Potter on Murdoch.

  40. sue_m says:

    If it was left to the UK to sort out the mess then Murdoch would undoubtedly win at some point after the dust settled. But now the US is involved and News Corporation as a whole is getting tainted, maybe, just maybe we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Murdoch family’s empire.

  41. Lynn Clemance says:

    Why were you at the Murdoch/Freud party?

    1. Peter Stewert says:

      To enjoy the dancing, at least that was the report from the articles I read, dad-dancing to be exact. If there had been more mud to throw I’m sure the British press would have beeen happy to distract away from their own guilt.

      Still nice to know the blog moderation didn’t censor post (though I’d be happy if they spellchecked mine more often).

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