News Corp should not get hands on Ten

Rupert Murdoch
The following (Amanda Meade The Guardian Australia 28 June 2017), is about the response of former manager of the Ten Network’s reaction to Murdoch’s interest in taking over the television station through, the manipulation of governments and “trampling” the idea of democracy through the its practices and the Murdoch version of news coverage.

News Corp is a “rogue organisation” which is seeking to get media laws changed in Australia so it can acquire Channel Ten, a former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, John Menadue, said in an extraordinary interview on ABC radio.

“The Australian government should resist any attempt to expand the media power of the news organisation which already controls 60 or 70% of the metropolitan media in Australia,” Menadue told ABC Melbourne Radio’s Jon Faine in an interview that focused on the power of Rupert Murdoch. “It is a disgraceful organisation.”

“Step after step [Murdoch] seeks favours from government to promote his rent seeking.”

Channel Ten is in voluntary administration and one of its billionaire backers, Murdoch’s son Lachlan, is in the box seat to buy the network if the media laws are changed to allow it.

Menadue, who was general manager of News Limited Australia for seven years and who worked for the prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, said the young Rupert Murdoch was full of promise in the 1960s and 70s and he had enjoyed working for him.

“In recent decades, his organisation has become a disgrace,” Menadue, 82, said. “It’s trampled on democracy in three continents, it’s damaged the media enormously in three countries.

“I think it’s a tragedy that a person who looked as if he would be an important contributor to a new, open style of media has turned out to produce such a dreadful rogue organisation such as News Ltd.”

A former chief executive of Qantas, Menadue was invited on to the morning program to talk about Murdoch after his popular blog Pearls and Irritations caught Faine’s eye. He didn’t disappoint, unleashing a tirade of criticism of the media baron and his global political influence.

“He is recently, of course, a supporter of Trump, a supporter of Theresa May, a supporter of Brexit; he supported the Iraq invasion and still justifies it; he’s a climate sceptic; his organisation has been accused and convicted of phone hacking; there is serial sexism at Fox News in the US,” he said.

“It’s an appalling record for an organisation but of great concern for me is the way he’s used governments.”

Menadue said Murdoch was “the great rent seeker”, using his influence to change media laws in Australia now, just as he did in the 1980s when he used “political persuasion” to get the Hawke Labor government to “gift him” him the Herald and Weekly Times in Melbourne.

“He is now seeking in the UK amendments to complete his $20bn takeover of Sky TV,” he said. “It’s interesting to me that his papers in Australia and elsewhere are always attacking what they call welfare bludgers and single mothers yet he uses governments more than anyone else I’ve ever known.”

Menadue said News Corp publications liked to “rip apart” activists and organisations who might be critical of them, including GetUp, the Australian Press Council and the ABC. “They are not content to dominate mainstream media; they also want to silence organisations that might be critical of them.”

Menadue said Murdoch’s pursuit of power stemmed from his treatment in Australia by the Menzies and Whitlam governments, which refused to take him seriously, and also because he was called the “dirty digger” and the “boy publisher” in the UK.

“He’s used his life in the media as a means to attain recognition for his own earlier damaged ego and to show he has power in the community,” he said. “Step after step he seeks favours from government to promote his rent seeking.”

Ten had some good news on Wednesday in the form of licence fee relief from the Turnbull government, which waived a $127m bill for the broadcast industry as a one-off measure.

The communications minister, Mitch Fifield, used his regulatory powers to provide urgent relief to Ten and the other commercial networks, which are waiting for the media changes package to pass the Senate.

The chairman of Free TV, Harold Mitchell, welcomed the interim relief for the industry, which he said was challenged by increased competition from large multinational technology and media companies.


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