With all today’s fallout from the Government’s Brexit vote defeat yesterday evening, some observers may have missed the significant media news: the Murdoch mafiosi have sold most of their properties to the Disney organisation. What was thought for many years to be the empire that Creepy Uncle Rupe would pass on to his sons James and Lachlan has been cashed in as if it were chips in a casino, prior to a player leaving the building.
And you Matey - don't let the door hit you on the way out
As so often with these matters, the culture of press Omertà means very few newspaper sites have said anything about the deal, but fortunately the Guardian and BBC have gone there, and the news is clear: “Walt Disney has agreed to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for a total $52.4bn (£39bn) … The deal includes Fox's 39% stake in satellite broadcaster Sky, and the 20th Century Fox film studio”.
The BBC explains that “Mr Murdoch will still retain control of News Corp, the news publishing group that split away from 21st Century Fox in 2013 and which owns the Times and the Sun newspapers”. The Murdochs will also keep hold of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), Fox Sports and Fox Business. So the propaganda operation across the USA will continue. But the Sky stake is being sold.
As to the future for Murdoch’s sons, all we know is that “James Murdoch had been widely tipped to be given a senior role at Disney. But [Disney CEO Bob] Iger told Good Morning America: ‘James and I will be talking over the next couple of months. He will be integral to the integration process. He and I will be discussing whether there is a role for him or not at our company’”. That is the mystery. But there is no mystery about the Sky stake.
The Guardian spells it out: “Fox’s current takeover offer will proceed and the Competition and Markets Authority will give its opinion next year. But it will be Disney that inherits the UK broadcaster. And it is clear that, if necessary, Murdoch will be prepared to close Sky News to complete the takeover”. No Fox News UK. Maybe no Sky News at all.
This has led Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and Charlie Falconer to release a joint statement telling “For decades, Rupert Murdoch has expanded his empire and used his power for a deeply ideological agenda, corroding public debate. Today, he is in retreat … If this deal happens, the long held ambition of Rupert Murdoch to turn Sky News into Fox News is dead and buried. This abandonment of his attempt to Foxify Sky News is good for broadcasting, the quality of public debate and democracy”. There was more.
“The Murdochs already have too much power over UK media. After this deal, they will have less … To truly show it will stand up to the power of the Murdochs, the Government should now commission the Leveson 2 Inquiry and make good on its promise to the victims of phone hacking”. Moreover, the hacking trials, investigations into corrupt practices and illegal behaviour, and pressure on press advertisers must continue.
The Murdoch mafiosi are now in retreat. Just rejoice at that news.