Post on the Press 11/03/2011
Posted by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, at 11:52, Fri 11 March 2011:
Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSKYB has been a source of controversy. Jeremy Hunt has decided to accept an undertaking from Newscorp (in which the Murdoch family owns a controlling interest). This would ensure that Sky News remained independent with 61% of it owned by outside shareholders but with its funding guaranteed by News Corporation.
The argument against allowing this deal is that it will reduce choice for television and allows too much control to one company. I am not convinced by this. Britain now has more channels than any country other than the United States. BSKYB provides a platform for distributing these channels but so do various cable suppliers as well as free to air via digital boxes. No Murdoch channel has come close to the market share held by the BBC, ITV or Channel Four. Moreover, the viewing figures for Sky News are low (although I personally see it more than any other channel) and it is hard to see how people’s politics can be influenced by Sky Sports even if the recent cricket world cup matches have affected their blood pressure.
Newscorp also owns The Times group of newspapers and The Sun. However, Rupert Murdoch has done more for the plurality of the press than any other individual. His success in defeating the outrageous union practices that had brought all British newspapers to the brink of bankruptcy allowed the sector to prosper and new titles, including The Independent, to be launched. It is this battle with the unions that makes him so unpopular with the left but it puzzles me that he is not more of a hero with the right.