Alex Massie

Who’s Afraid of Rupert Murdoch?

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Everyone, obviously. But if it weren't Rupert Murdoch trying to purchase BSkyB would anyone care? Thought not. But since the Dirty Digger already owns 39% of Sky, what harm can it really do to let him buy the rest of a company he, more than anyone else, is responsible for making a success worth purchasing?

Our friends at the New Statesmen do not appear convinced by this. Indeed Samira Shackle is troubled by an interview Jeremy Hunt (who will now, post-Vince decide the matter) gave to Broadcast Magazine earlier this year in which he said:

Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.

What part of that is untrue? None of it. Before there was Rupert there were four channels (three of them owned by the state); now there are hundreds. If stating this obvious truth disqualifies one from ruling on Murdoch's bid then you're going to struggle to find someone who's not disqualified in some way.

You don't need to like the old brute to recognise that he's done more to further choice and niche television than anyone else. Why, exactly, is it a dreadful thing for him to own the rest of a company in which he is already the main shareholder?

I can see why the owners of other newspapers - including this magazine's owners - might be unhappy but it's not so clear why anyone else should really care. If you think it intolerable that Murdoch should own all of BSkyB then isn't it also intolerable that he be its largest shareholder (and thus de facto chief) too?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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