Anyone still unsure as to why the Murdoch mafiosi have thrown their weight behind the campaign for Britain to leave the EU should no longer be in any doubt this morning. Not only does Rupert Murdoch hate the idea that he cannot bend the European Parliament to his will - “When I go into Downing Street, they do what I say, when I go to Brussels they take no notice” - he hates the idea of regulation with teeth.
Rupe and his fellow mafiosi could depend on Theresa May’s desperate Government to do his bidding, to dispose of Leveson Part 2 and Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, but the EP and European Commission are a whole different ball game. And talking of ball games, as the Guardian has reported, “The offices of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox have been raided by officials from the European commission investigating a potential abuse of its dominant position in the broadcasting of major sports events”.
The commission spokesman spelled it out: “The European commission can confirm that on 10 April its officials carried out unannounced inspections in several member states at the premises of companies active in the distribution of media rights and related rights pertaining to various sports events and/or their broadcasting. Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices”.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the saga; the Guardian also told its readers last December of the claim “Bribes for TV soccer rights allegedly paid with 'agreement and support' of Murdoch's Fox executives”. Do go on. “Senior executives at Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox corporation are alleged to have agreed for millions of dollars in bribes to be paid to South American soccer officials to secure major broadcast deals, according to US prosecution documents unmasked by sworn testimony”. The cash cow of the Murdoch broadcast empire. Well, well.
So was the London raid for similar reasons? It may well have been: “The raids, during which documents and computer records were reportedly taken, had been prompted by concerns of the regulators in Brussels that Fox ‘may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices’”.
What is not told, but perhaps far more important, is the likelihood that law enforcement agencies in the USA and EU have been working together to clamp down on potential anti-competitive behaviour. The temptation is always there, when the rewards are so great, to break the rules in order to gain, or indeed just hold on to, market share.
Remember that in the UK, Sky has been under serious competitive pressure for some time now from the likes of BT Sport - while at the same time, the Murdoch press has been lobbying furiously for BT to be hobbled by having its Openreach division split away from the parent company. That might just come back under the spotlight now.
And in case anyone had forgotten, the Guardian report reminds us “The entertainment giant is currently embroiled in a long-drawn-out takeover of Sky, during which it has fallen under intense scrutiny by regulators in London and Brussels”.
While our own competition authorities waver, it seems others do not. You wanted to know why the Murdoch mafiosi backed Brexit so enthusiastically? Now you know.