All of Rupert Murdoch’s British rivals have got together to complain to Vince Cable that he is better than them. In a charge led by the Guardian Media Group (readership down 10%, losses up 77% to £171 million this year) they argue that he will be too dominant in newspapers and broadcasting. People forget that Murdoch bet everything on Sky, it almost bankrupted him. The Daily Mail also set up a satellite channel about the same time – younger co-conspirators won’t remember British Satellite Broadcasting’s “Squarial” – it failed. Now the Mail has joined with the Guardian demanding that the government handicaps Murdoch for being successful. The rivals put forward a specious argument about media plurality – though how News International buying the bit of Sky they don’t already own changes plurality from a consumer’s point of view escapes Guido. Murdoch succeeded and in doing so he single-handedly broke the BBC / ITV duopoly. Before the advent of Sky we had less media plurality.
What is really the biggest danger to media plurality? Failure, newspapers going bankrupt and out of business. The editor and management of The Guardian would be better employed trying to reduce their losses rather than pulling down their competitors.
The BBC, Channel 4, the Telegraph and Mirror groups have all joined in the complaint to Vince Cable. Ironically it is the BBC that arguably crowds out potential competitors by offering products which it is very difficult to compete against, because the BBC has no need to make a profit. If the Guardianistas are really concerned about media plurality why don’t they do what Murdoch did – set up their own satellite channel. Guido for one would love to see a Guardian/Mirror channel launched, with their media brand’s partisan values up against a Fox-style Sky.
Go on Rusbridger, do something to increase media plurality, rather than just moaning about a lack of it…