Print Friendly and PDF
only search openDemocracy.net

Is it time for Murdoch's empire to be reined in?: A fascinating debate on News Corp's bid to take over BSkyB

Is this the moment to halt the expansion of Richard Murdoch's media empire in the UK? An OurKingdom post, which presents the media mogul's bid for full ownership of the country's most powerful commercial broadcaster as a threat to our democracy, has sparked an urgent debate between the author, Oliver Huitson, and David Elstein, an influential figure in the British media industry.
Is this the moment to halt the expansion of Richard Murdoch's media empire in the UK? The UK media regulator OFCOM has been asked to rule on whether Rupert Murdoch's company can acquire all of BSkyB. If the takeover goes ahead, News Corp would take full ownership of the country's most powerful commercial broadcaster.
The decision, described by some as the 'Berlusconi moment', prompted an OurKingdom post by Oliver Huitson who presented the media mogul's bid for full ownership of the broadcaster as a threat to our democracy. It sparked a strong debate between him and David Elstein, an influential figure in the British media industry who has worked for both the BBC and BSkyB (and is Chair of openDemocracy's board).

The exchange is in the comments following Oliver Huitson's article 'Can Murdoch be Stopped?...'

Excerpt from Oliver Huitson, author of the article:

Its not a question of punishing him, its attempting to keep media as an open environment not dominated by one man. I appreciate your arguments for his business acumen but is there not a point when success in media becomes a problem for democracy, and isnt that more important than Murdoch's bottom line? We could debate this endlessly, but the upper echelons of Westminster presumably have a pretty good idea of his real power - and judging by their actions they seem to think its substantial, as i do.

Excerpt from David Elstein:

The chorus of hostility to the News Corp bid for BSkyB is largely based on atavistic impulses.  Big is bad, Murdoch is worse.  Yet the bid - as far as I can see - makes absolutely no difference to media plurality (perhaps Ofcom will disagree).

It is a model debate, with a vigorous exchange of views, clearly set out, without the personal attacks or denigration that so often mar internet comments. Read the full exchange here.

About the author

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist, editor and fiction writer, published in Al Jazeera UK, VICE UK, the London Review of Books, the London Magazine, the New Humanist and others. At openDemocracy she has been Editor at OurKingdom (now oD UK), OurBeeb, and 50.50 (Interim Editor Jan-March 2017) and has co-edited two books: 'Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy' and 'Re-thinking the BBC: Public Media in the 21st Century'. She lives in Athens, and is writing a novel.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the
oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.