The Slog lifts the lid on the odd struggle between radical reformers & Newscorp for the soul of the BBC
Elizabeth Murdoch’s wise decision a week ago to dismiss rumours of her candidacy for the top BBC job has shifted attention elsewhere towards other candidates. But there is a lot more at stake here than a row about licence fee versus subscription as a business model. This is a power struggle for control of televisual media in the UK.
I posted on Monday to the effect that nobody seems to like Dominic Cummings very much….and nowhere is that more apparent than at The Times. Only now are the reasons for this becoming clear.
In the same post, I predicted that UK negotiating head in the EU trade negotiations David Frost would deliver an aggressive speech in Brussels Tuesday night. Indeed he did….but alone among the MSM, the Times blanked it. The Times blanked it because the Times wants Dom Cummings to fail and begone.
Instead, the Newscorp flagship chose to lead with ‘Boris Johnson is at odds with his senior Downing Street advisers, including Dominic Cummings, over plans to scrap the BBC licence fee’ and give a preposterous OpEd to Rachel Sylvester entitled ‘Cummings is the Marxist in Ten Downing Street’.
This isn’t “news” we’re looking at here: it is two élites in a corporacratic State battling for power….in which the Truth comes a very poor last.
For now that the BBC’s top executive is to leave – and the ‘end of the licence fee’ has been leaked by (Guess who? The Times) – Newscorp and the male Murdoch succession have been quietly lobbying for Rebekah Brooks (currently their CEO) to get the job….and, in advance, to bounce both Baroness Morgan and Boris Johnson into a subscription model owned in all but name by the Murdoch Empire of Evil.
Dominic Cummings wanted Murdoch’s estranged daughter Liz to get the post – an idea that Prime Minister Boris Johnson also favoured. BoJo in turn thinks the licence fee should be retained, Cummings thinks it should be ditched. Neither man is about to fall out over the issue: the issue is about reform, not funding. Needless to say, Nicky the Brainless Baroness Morgan has an open mind….which is one way of describing the uninterrupted borehole between her ears.
But Newscorp’s Times is very much in the business of creating turbulence at Number Ten…with the Cummings head rolling off into a historical footnote.
We need a history catchup at this juncture.
Cummings thought the Murdoch daughter to be a wizard wheeze. It’s not hard to see why.
Elizabeth Murdoch quit Newscorp to set up her own independent TV production business Shine almost twenty years ago. It quickly became the UK’s leading indie, selling shows to the BBC as well as growing through acquisition. In a final act of convenient incest, Liz sold Shine to her Dad’s Fox subsidiary for over £400 million ten years later. Shine then turned out to have over £100m in debts – something that irked both her siblings and Newscorp shareholders.
Not only Liz/Roop relations are strained these days, as she has also stuck the knife into her brothers in various speeches – suggesting they care more about money than content (surely not?) and specifically defending the BBC licence fee at the Edinburgh festival.
During the early teen years of the century, two huge
frauds sorry, scandals, enveloped Newscorp, one of which involved illegal phone hacking on an industrial scale, and another the blatant attempt to use Jeremy Hunt as the Culture Secretary conduit to a ‘fix’ decision to allow Murdoch to buy the remaining shares in UKSkyTV.
Latterly, The Times equally blatantly favoured Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership. This was in turn duly noted by the eventual winner…..Boris Johnson – a former teacher’s pet of the Aussie dynasty.
So now you know what all this is really about. Cummings (and to some extent Bojo) want to give Murdochland the finger. Ergo, The Times blanks his successes, invents arguments, and writes stupefyingly ill-informed opinion columns comparing the PM’s top adviser to some kind of wannabe Juan Péron.
Rupert Murdoch and his male spawn have always put globalist media power, political influence and commercial opportunity above news accuracy and balance.
So, in turn, has Boris the Spider put all those things above serving The People….in whose name he got elected to Office in the first place.
The Alternative State is slugging it out in a war with an Elected puppet. The Times is now merely the Inhouse magazine of the AS; the prize is who gets to own the UK’s national broadcaster.
The citizens? Are you kidding? We’re not so much neutral as neutered.
Five years ago, I wrote this among many other things about the dangers of destroying the BBC:
‘Since Greg Dyke left, the BBC has been scared and gutless, but with odd flashes of estuary pc poking through the fog every now and again. You and I may not like it, but it’s nevertheless a very good reflection of Big Britain out there. In Reithian terms, it should be more than that, but it could be much worse…..better a half-blind bully than a Blue Sky….The main thing the BBC isn’t is Newscorp. For that absence alone I could forgive them almost anything, but it can’t end there.’
It hasn’t ended there, and now we are about to see real reform of the Beeb at last. But I remain of the same position I have always held: be careful what you wish for. The BBC needs a purge for the same reason that the Treasury is being purged already. It doesn’t need undischarged criminal sociopaths at the helm.
The idea that the Dirty Digger does not have designs on a UK media monopoly is merely a view held by those who aren’t paying attention. If you are of that ilk, then look away now.
Have you heard of Times Radio? For Murdoch, any door into the BBC will do. Last Monday, the Newscorp venture hired the BBC’s veteran deputy political editor, John Pienaar, to anchor its morning programme going head-to-head with the BBC’s Radio4.
Stig Abell, the editor of the Times Literary Supplement (there’s that brand name again) who is coordinating the launch of the station, said he hoped Pienaar’s hiring would help make it a “new destination for those people hungry for quality reporting and trusted, expert analysis”.
I may vomit.
Meanwhile, Roop has decreed that Sun editor and former hacking suspect Tony Gallagher is not depraved enough to continue as editor of the paper, and must give way to Victoria Newton, former editor of the currant bun’s Bizarre column, wherein she led the charge to find the ‘Shagger of the Year’, ‘Caner of the Year’ and several other much-coveted awards for high achievers in decent society.
Newscorp has, of course, changed its name to News International. As a piece of rebranding to put previous lawless behaviour behind it hohoho, the continuing use of the “news” word is a supremely Orwellian example of hyper-euphemism.
The idea that Rebekah Brooks could ever take over at the BBC is beyond surreal fantasy; but trust me, Murdo Australopithecus still believes that anything is possible….as indeed in this the Era of Yeh, Whatever Unthink, it quite possibly is.
This is my concluding question:
Do you think the only antidote to a slavishly pc BBC is a lavish exposition of braindead corporate tabloidism or a slavering lapdog of State neoliberalism?
As questions go, that’s a pretty leading one – but if by chance you are hard of thinking, let me make my position clear: I don’t want the Ruperts anywhere near the BBC, I’d like in turn to keep Government control of it well away from Boris Johnson, and I would like to see a return to information balance and brave creative content protected from Mammon.
As is, the BBC is hopelessly liberal-hegemonic in its news, satire, drama commissioning and sitcom concepts. It desperately needs a clearout of the metrochic bubble tendency – and a massive injection of free-thinking.
I’m not sure all that accords with what Dominic Cummings wants; but I do think he is the closest thing in power to that as an end result.
As so often, I am sure there is a mutualised Charter available to solve the problem. But I’m not holding my breath in expectation of such a wise outcome.