No sooner had Murdoch Junior made his BBC-bashing speech on Friday evening, than he was at it again in a Q&A session yesterday. He once again questioned the Corporation’s acquisition of the Lonely Planet guides: this, he asserted, showed that the Beeb was not merely sticking to its core business, while not considering that something that makes money and is in the same kind of genre as the decades old Holiday programme might not be such a bad thing.
Also, Junior vigorously maintained that the Beeb was “state sponsored”, and it’s worth studying the form of words used. What do we otherwise associate with the phrase “state sponsored”? Broadcasting? Media? Television? Or, more often, words like “Terrorism”: this was a premeditated and nasty attempt to establish a thoroughly negative image. It demonstrates the urgency – or perhaps that should be desperation – of the Murdoch case. And it has generated less than total approval.
Also delivering a lecture in Edinburgh this weekend has been the much characterised but very knowledgeable BBC Business Editor Robert Peston. At the centre of his address was the argument that deregulation of the banking sector – both in the UK and the USA – had helped bring about the recent financial crisis, and the question asking if similar deregulation of the news media would be such a good thing.
Peston’s question comes back to the point I made yesterday: in the USA, with the level of media regulation favoured chez Murdoch, we get Fox News (fair and balanced my arse), with moderate and unbiased hosts like Ollie North, and allegedly impartial pundits such as “Wiggy” Bolton. In the UK, we get BBC News and the choice of more than credible alternatives from ITV, and of course Channel 4. We get hosts who give politicians of all stripes a serious examination: The Inquisition of Pax Jeremiah yields to no party diktat. Jon Snow likewise.
So, when Peston and Junior found themselves on the same table at dinner following the latter’s speech, it should come as no surprise to find that there was a full and frank exchange of views, with no meeting of minds. Peston, by all accounts, stood his ground in forthright style.
Bullies like the Murdochs won’t like that. Tough.