David Blackburn

An unlikely alliance against Murdoch

An unlikely alliance against Murdoch
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The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, Channel Four, British Telecom and the BBC have united in common cause: stop Rupert Murdoch. This has to be The Digger’s greatest achievement: not since Waterloo has more motley a coalition been scrambled to resist a ravening tyrant.

The signatories have written a letter to Vince Cable, who is to adjudge if Murdoch’s proposed full ownership of BSkyB will endanger media plurality. In reality, this hostile alliance is about more than plurality; it is a battle for the control of the news in a digital future. The distinct trinity of print, television and online is being subsumed into one digital solution online, and, as Robert Peston notes, News Corp is the only organisation to have more than a toe in each form - the Guardian has an exhaustive report into the dominance already enjoyed by BSkyB and News Corp.

Presumably, Murdoch wants to tie his pay-walled online newspapers to Sky subscriptions, just as he did with Sky broadband packages. Organisations without News Corp’s liquid muscle, or with an ideological objection to charging for online content, will strive to block Murdoch’s attempt to alchemise his products into one conglomerate, and undercut the rest of the market.

This is a test of regulation and competition law, and it puts the Conservatives, who have cultivated close links with News Corp, in an awkward position.