Monday, July 11, 2011

I feel sorry for Kerry Stokes

Let's be clear, Sky News in Australia is a JV that not only includes News Ltd (through BShyB) but also Kerry Stokes' Seven Network and the Nine Network. So in the consideration of the Australian Network TV tender Stephen Conroy has to deal with not one but three powerful media interests - two still being "mogul" controlled.

I'm not one of those who immediately see Conroy's interest as being supporting the ABC's bid. Successive Communications Ministers have often sided with the political imperative of satisfying the moguls before supporting the public broadcaster.

But how, one asks, could the Government seriously contemplate awarding a contract for the flagship of soft-diplomacy, our broadcast of "Australian values" to the region and beyond be tainted by the involvement of an empire that is now in such disgrace.

Let's be clear this is a Murdoch issue, not a News of the World one. as the referred article notes;

The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch’s empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empire’s pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic. ...
Private detectives and phone hackers do not become the primary sources of a newspaper’s information without the tacit knowledge and approval of the people at the top, all the more so in the case of newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch, according to those who know him best.

As one of his former top executives—once a close aide—told me, “This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch’s orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means.”

It is worth noting that the ownership in Sky News is NOT by the local News Limited, but by BSkyB - which in turn is part of News International (only controlled though - Murdoch is currently seeking full ownership).

Quite simply Sky News should no longer be considered on ethical grounds - which seems harsh to Seven and Nine, but unavoidable so long as Murdoch shows no contrition - or even understanding about his moral bankruptcy. Murdoch's attitude is telling as this report notes;

David Cameron was given a personal guarantee by Rupert Murdoch that Andy Coulson was safe to take on as his Downing Street press chief, The Independent on Sunday learnt yesterday, as the fallout from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal threatened to escalate into all-out war between the UK's two most powerful men.

Rupert Murdoch has survived a number of "near death" experiences in the past - all previously near financial crises. This time the stakes are even bigger - it is his own credibility that is at stake. My personal bet is that Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch will not be senior executives at News Corp by the end of August.
Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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