The phone hacking scandal is all over the news, everywhere around the world. It begs the question as to whether the media has too much control over what the government is doing with the powers we elected they have.
I recently watched a programme on UK Channel 4 about Rupert Murdoch and News International playing a massive role in the way that both the Labour and Conservative parties have handled laws regarding the media. Tony Blair and Murdoch came to a compromise that if News International were the first to newspaper corporation to know about things that were happening in the Commons that all of News International’s UK papers would back Blair and New Labour’s campaign.
David Cameron was worse still. He agreed to reduce the powers that the media’s regulating body, the Office of Communications (OfCom), have over what is printed and, worse still, Murdoch encouraged him to challenge the percentages of British terrestrial channels that non-European Union countries can have. This would ultimately mean that Murdoch and News International could control more of the British media than ever before.
This change in regulations meant that News International tabled a bid to take over majority control for BSkyB (one of the UK’s biggest channels). This bid would have seen the company’s share rise from 35% to 61%. In light of the phone hacking scandal, which was continually getting worse, this bid was referred by the Communications MP to the Office of Fair Trading to scrutinize the bid further before it being allowed.
Before a final decision was to be made on the BSkyB bid, there were revelations of victims of crime being phone hacked by the News of the World. This caused Murdoch to close the News of the World completely, to try to secure that bid and thwart repercussions (which hasn’t happened). This bid was eventually withdrawn by News International due to the mounting accusations that were facing the company.
Even though this bid has saved us from a media monopoly under Murdoch for now, it doesn’t mean that he and News International can never resubmit a bid to take control of BSkyB (or any other channel for that matter). And because Murdoch is in bed with the politicians there isn’t much we can do about it.
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