If we’re lucky, future historians will look back on this time as a turning point…
Scandal stricken News Corp suffered a fresh setback today when Australian Competition Commission said that its $2.7 billion takeover bid of Austar raised “significant” monopoly issues and delayed decision on it till September.
The takeover bid by Foxtel, part owned by Murdoch’s News Corp would have given the company an almost undisputed sway in pay TV operations in Australia.
The delay in takeover bid was a second setback to Murdoch’s News Corp within weeks as the company had to abandon its plans to take full control of the the money spinner London based Satellite Broadcaster, BSkyB.
The Australian Competition Commission ruled that the merger of Foxtel and Austar, its major rival in Australia was likely to lead to “substantial lessening of competition in the pay TV market”.
“The proposed merger would therefore effectively create a monopoly subscription television provider across Australia”, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported quoting a statement issued by the Commission.
We’ll see in September if the Australians can resist their multinational native son.
That power corrupts is old news. A big public show with some bad apples in jail, followed by business as usual is the easiest way out. News Corp shares are up, so stockholders must feel reassured that nothing will really change.
Murdoch got his start in Australia, and some politicians there are asking the important question. From Voice of America news…
The scandal has prompted a broader debate here about media ownership and regulation.
The Australian Greens are questioning News Limited’s domination of the domestic newspaper industry and want an official investigation into its operations. The party’s leader Senator Bob Brown says too much power lies in too few hands.
“We have the most concentrated newspaper ownership of any similar democracy and that means that two thirds of the metropolitan newspapers [and] two thirds of the suburban newspapers are owned by the Murdoch Empire,” said Brown. ” And it does not allow for the plurality of views that is healthy for a modern democracy.
These are the questions we should be asking here. Does a democracy need an emperor? Can a free press thrive when a monopoly increases its control year by year?
REPLY: Over at Buzzflash, CwV had this to say-
#1 We are not, technically, as concentrated as Australia, mediawise. There are seven corporations that account for something like 85% of American Media. That figure is a little misleading because in great expanses of this country, your media choices are limited so that sometimes, you can’t even find all seven Majors, and there’s nothing else in between, try to find local radio on a road trip anywhere between the Smokies and the Rockies.
Seven companies sounds like it should be a competitive environment, no monopoly here, right? Wrong. The Corporate line that all these media giants toe is so strict and so similar, it might as well be coming from one office. And it’s so far Right that Keith Olbermann is too radically Leftist for the “Liberal” MSNBC.
What’s needed (and I hope this will be the outcome of the collapse of FUX) is that 1) News Bureaus should be sheered off of the corporations that currently own them, 2)the rule about owning multiple media outlets in any given market must be reapplied and strengthened and 3) a preference for local ownership/programming should be built into the license process to encourage local media companies growth, limiting the dominance of the BigFoots.
The Supremes ruled that “News” media can lie without punishment and they have indicated that an attempt to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine will not fly. It’s clear that regulating the content of Media is not a viable (or desirable) path. It makes more sense, tactically, to go after the corporate structure that concentrates that power in too few hands, regardless of their political bent.
Thanks CwV, I especially like #3 on your list. Rhode Island has some great local programming, from all sides of the issues. Long may it wave.