The director general of the BBC has attacked media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s intention to complete his ownership of BskyB, warning that it will result in “a significant loss of plurality in our media market”.
In an interview with US television, Mark Thompson warned of the risk of “abuse of power” that Murdoch’s media businesses could be capable of, if his bid to purchase the 61 per cent of Sky he doesn’t own goes through.
It’s the most vocal Thompson has been about Murdoch’s intention to totally own BSkyB, although unlike other critics he stopped short of suggesting that business secretary Vince Cable block the move in the interests of media plurality.
The fears come from Murdoch uniting his two most influential businesses: News International, which is responsible for newspapers including the Times and the Sun; and BSkyB, the biggest player in the UK’s subscription television market. Critics say that this dominance of the UK media landscape will give Murdoch more power than ever before to influence both the nation, government and – as has been alleged recently during the News of the World phone hacking scandal – the police.
Murdoch, who is expected to formalise a bid within a fortnight, will be unlikely to balk at the chance to respond to Thompson’s criticisms when he makes the inaugural Baroness Thatcher speech later this month. The Guardian reports that he is expected to praise the ex-prime minster for her “contribution to British economy”.
Thompson is not the first to warn of Murdoch’s intentions, but his voice will add serious pressure to Vince Cable, who has the power to block the buyout in the public interest.
But could Thompson’s statement be a symbol for something else? Former Guardian media journalist Emily Bell took to Twitter and suggested: “For Mark Thompson to be so direct about Murdoch’s power makes me wonder if he is thinking about stepping down.”
Is it the beginning of the end for both the British media and Thompson’s controversial career?
(Source: The Guardian)