So, JH is in trouble. First off, no one’s quite sure whether JH stands for Jeremy Hunt or Adam Smith. But second, and more importantly, he’s had a bit of a problem keeping his thoughts to himself rather than, say, putting them into a text-based and easily recordable format, and then sending them to the Prime Minister. In case you live on the plant Zarg (read: outside of the UK) and haven’t seen the text, it reads as follows:
He doesn’t think he will get a fair hearing from Ofcom. I am privately concerned about this because News Corp are very litigious and we could end up in the wrong place in terms of media policy. Essentially what James Murdoch wants to do is to repeat what his father did with the move to Wapping and create the world’s first multiplatform media operator available from paper to web to TV to iPhone to iPad.
Isn’t this what all media companies have to do ultimately? And if so we must be very careful that any attempt to block it is done on genuine plurality grounds and not as a result of lobbying by competitors.
The UK has the chance to lead the way… but if we block it our media sector will suffer for years. In the end I am sure sensible controls can be put into any merger to ensure there is plurality but I think it would be totally wrong to cave into the Mark Thompson/Channel 4/Guardian line that this represents a substantial change of control given that we all know Sky is controlled by News Corp now anyway.
So, very pro-Murdoch. The problem is that ol’ JH is supposed to be an impartial arbiter on the issue of Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB. Which, clearly, he isn’t.
To be honest, I don’t really care that he made up his mind about Murdoch before the takeover process began. I urge you to name one person who DOESN’T have a strong opinion on the liver-spotted media mogul who looks about 10 minutes away from having the skin on his face fall off and reveal the alien bone structure underneath.
But where I have a problem is in the Tories’ reaction to the whole shebang. In particular, when I compare and contrast with the reaction to Vince Cable’s “war with Murdoch” statement:
- Man reveals he is anti-Murdoch. “How dare such a biased person be in charge of a massive takeover aimed at wiping out media diversity in this nation!” Etc, etc.
- Man reveal he is pro-Murdoch. “Jeremy has followed all processes to the letter and listened fully to independent advice as per the process he has beeen told to follow.”
Did VC follow all process? I don’t know, the Tories certainly didn’t give a damn whether he did or didn’t. The real reason they were up in arms was that a business man with lots of money might not get what he wants. And the real reason they’re more pragmatic about bias this time is that they now know he will.