“In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content; and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.”
Entwistle really never had a chance. He became Director General of the BBC, and within days, the BBC was embroiled in a scandal that he could not possibly have foreseen. By a strange mix of job titles and responsibilities, the DG is also editor-in-chief as set out by the BBCs constitution. This is a flawed mix. It requires an extraordinary amount of oversight from one job, given the size and scope of the Beeb. So for that reason, Patten is right that the management at the BBC needs radical overhaul. It is absolutely the case that the Newsnight program was flawed, massively, (though they showed restraint in not naming the Tory Peer) and a fundamental degree of irresponsible journalism is at the heart of that. Entwistle did the decent thing, and resigned. He absolutely had to. There is no excuse for lack of oversight of one of the most controversial shows Newsnight has aired.
The issue I see with the direction the BBC crises is taking, is that it is slowly becoming surrounded by the vultures on the Right who take ideological issue with the BBC as a tax payer funded institution, rather than the moral and structural problems that the BBC is currently facing. It is opportunistic nonsense that chooses to ignore the mass of despicable scandals the commercial media is currently embroiled in.
The Savile scandal, is not to the BBC what hacking was to News International. The abuse scandal involves people, not businesses. Savile used his position at the BBC to abuse, by the abusers go far beyond the BBC. Phone hacking is entirely the realm of commercial media, for the purposes of profiting as commercial media. Newsnight made a catastrophic mistake, but it remains a trusted and excellent provider of quality news. The agenda of those who seem to be hysterically painting Newsnight and the BBC as some sort of evil empire, rotting away, should not be mistaken. They are not morally outraged. They are ideological enemies of the BBC and nothing more.
The scandal must focus on the structural problems that lead firstly to the abuse scandal involving Saville (though the BBC’s Child Protection Policy, now ignored apparently, is pretty strict and the sort of abuse by people like Saville absolutely couldn’t happen again at the BBC) and the failings of the Director General to adequately perform his job as editor-in-chief. It must not focus on the public vs private media battle. And here is why.
The feigned right winged moral outrage is pretty intriguing, as well as damned hypocritical. Take today’s Sun. As we know, the Sun is a Murdoch owned newspaper. Here is the front page:
- Here the Sun takes the moral high ground. Entwistle had to go. The words ‘slur’ and ‘chump’ suggest an air of journalistic superiority from The Sun. They are poking Entwistle, for doing the decent thing and resigning, noting that responsibility ultimately lies with him. And yet for all their moral rage, I don’t seem to remember any Sun editors, journalists, or owners resigning when they spent weeks wrongly accusing Christopher Jefferies of the Joanna Yates murder, simply because he looked ‘weird’…
And it strikes me as wholly hypocritical of an organisation that quite happily hacked the voicemail of a dead schoolgirl, deleting messages, thus giving the family hope that she might still be alive – to take to the offensive and attempt to undermine the BBC at every possible turn. Here is perhaps the highlight of the day yesterday for me. A tweet from Rupert Murdoch:
- This is unbelievable hypocrisy. For those of us who sat and watched Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry, we recall the amount of questions asked to Murdoch on his knowledge of the widespread phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, to which almost entirely, he answered: “I don’t recall“. Asked about his bidding for the Times and Sunday Times, and his lunch with Thatcher to discuss, “I don’t recall”. In fact, he didn’t even remember having the meeting, apparently. A meeting that would have been incredibly important, given the size of The Times. Asked whether he’d supported Blair because Blair agreed that there would be no tighter control on his media operations (tighter controls, may have prevented hacking the voicemail of a dead school girl), Murdoch said: “I don’t recall”. On the subject of wide spread phone hacking, James Murdoch, then Chief Exec. of News Corp Europe and Asia said:
“None of these things were mentioned to me”
- When asked about whether he had seen a report of overwhelming evidence of illegal practices at News of the World, said:
It didn’t seem necessary for me to ask for a copy
- A Parliamentary Select Committee report stated that James Murdoch had shown:
“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International,”
- Pretty damning. The Parliamentary Select Committee are not the only ones to condemn James’ handling of the Phone Hacking scandal.
A recent report by Ofcom stated that James Murdoch….
“…..repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of as a chief executive and chairman”
One could say he did the decent thing and quit. Except, he stepped down as Chief Exec, but remained as Deputy Chief Operating Officer at News Corp and looks like he’s heading for the top job at Fox in the US. Remember all of this, when you look at that tweet from Rupert.
It is unsurprising that the Murdoch family is using the BBC crises to promote its own particular brand of right winged, anti-BBC bullshit. At the Leveson Inquiry, when asked about the decline in local newspaper circulation, he blamed the BBC entirely. At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, James Murdoch said this:
“There is a land grab going on – and it should be sternly resisted. The land grab is spearheaded by the BBC. The scope of its activities and ambitions is chilling.”
- Spearheaded by the BBC? He clearly believes the BBC has too much market influence in the media business. And yet, the BBC can most definitely not be considered an election decider as a media outlet. Whilst News Corp, well, even by its own remarks, insists it won the election for the Tories back in 1992:
- It would seem that Murdoch thinks it is perfectly acceptable for his empire to choose exactly what the public should be exposed to when it comes to political information, to have meetings with top politicians in order to strike deals in return for News Corp support, yet it is not acceptable for the BBC to exist at all. Is the BBC really spearheading a land grab? Is the media World drowning under the sheer power of the BBC? Is News Corp struggling in this landscape?
Well, here is a list of Media outlets owned by the Murdochs:
HarperCollins book publishing company
HarperCollins India (40%) joint venture with India Today Group
Zondervan Christian book publisher
Inspirio – religious gift production.
The Australian (Nationwide)
Community Media Group (16 QLD & NSW suburban/regional titles)
Cumberland-Courier Newspapers (23 suburban/commuter titles)
The Courier-Mail (Queensland)
The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
The Cairns Post (Cairns, Queensland)
The Gold Coast Bulletin (Gold Coast, Queensland)
The Townsville Bulletin (Townsville, Queensland)
The Daily Telegraph (New South Wales)
The Sunday Telegraph (New South Wales)
Herald Sun (Victoria)
Sunday Herald Sun (Victoria)
The Weekly Times (Victoria)
Leader Newspapers (33 suburban Melbourne, VIC titles)
MX (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBD)
The Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Victoria)
The Advertiser (South Australia)
The Sunday Mail (South Australia)
Messenger Newspapers (11 suburban Adelaide, SA titles)
The Sunday Times (Western Australia)
The Mercury (Tasmania)
Quest Newspapers (19 suburban Brisbane, QLD titles)
The Sunday Tasmanian (Tasmania)
Northern Territory News (Northern Territory)
The Sunday Territorian (Northern Territory)
The Tablelands Advertiser (Atherton Tablelands and the Far North, Queensland)
Fiji Times (National) (10%)
Nai Lalakai (10%)
Shanti Dut (10%)
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (National) (62.5%)
UK and Ireland newspapers, published by subsidiaries of News International Ltd.
News Group Newspapers Ltd.
The Sun (published in Scotland as The Scottish Sun and in Ireland as The Irish Sun)
The Sun on Sunday
Times Newspapers Ltd.
The Sunday Times
The Times Literary Supplement
US newspapers and magazines
The New York Post
Community Newspaper Group
The Brooklyn Paper
Dow Jones & Company
Consumer Media Group
The Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal Europe
Wall Street Journal Asia
Barron’s – weekly financial markets magazine.
Marketwatch – Financial news and information website.
Far Eastern Economic Review
Enterprise Media Group
Dow Jones Newswires – global, real-time news and information provider.
Factiva – provides business news and information together with content delivery tools and services.
Dow Jones Indexes – stock market indexes and indicators, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Dow Jones Financial Information Services – produces databases, electronic media, newsletters, conferences, directories, and other information services on specialised markets and industry sectors.
Betten Financial News – leading Dutch language financial and economic news service.
Local Media Group
Ottaway Community Newspapers – 8 daily and 15 weekly regional newspapers.
STOXX (33%)- joint venture with Deutsche Boerse and SWG Group for the development and distribution of Dow Jones STOXX indices.
Vedomosti (33%) – Russia’s leading financial newspaper (joint venture with Financial Times and Independent Media).
The Timesledger Newspapers of Queens, New York:
Bayside Times, Whitestone Times, Flushing Times, Little Neck Ledger, Jamaica Times, Astoria Times, Forest Hills Ledger
The Courier-Life Newspapers in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Paper
Flatbush Jewish Journal
Times-Herald Record (Middletown, New York)
The Leader – Corning, NY
SmartSource Magazine (weekly Sunday newspaper coupon insert)
Australian Country Style
Australian Golf Digest
Australian Good Taste
Live to Ride
Super Food Ideas
Vogue Entertaining & Travel
Inside Out (UK Based Magazine)
Music and radio
Fox Film Music Group
Best FM (50%)
Fox News Radio
50% of the National Rugby League (Australia and New Zealand)
Majority ownership of the Brisbane Broncos (68.9%) and full ownership of the Melbourne Storm rugby league team.
Colorado Rockies (15%)
Fox Filmed Entertainment: 20th Century Fox’s parent company
20th Century Fox: a film production/distribution company
Fox Searchlight Pictures – specialised films.
Fox 2000 Pictures – general audience feature films.
20th Century Fox Television – primetime television programming.
20th Television – television distribution (syndication).
Fox 21 – low scripted/budgeted television production company.
Fox Television Studios (productions)- market specific programming e.g. COPS and network television company.
Fox Television Studios International
Fox World Productions
Fox World Australia
Fox TV Studios France
Fox TV Studios India
Natural History New Zealand – natural world documentaries, non-fiction programming.
Fox Faith – Promotion and distribution of Christian and related “family friendly” movies on DVD and some theatrical release.
Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, New South Wales
Blue Sky Studios – production of CGI films e.g. Ice Age.
Fox Entertainment Group
New Regency Productions (20%) – general audience feature films.
Regency Enterprises (20%) – parent company of New Regency Productions (50%).
FOX Star Studios New Delhi, India
Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox), a US broadcast television network
MyNetworkTV, a US broadcast television network
Fox Television Stations, a group of owned and operated Fox television stations
Saeta TV Channel 10, channel of Uruguay
ITV plc (7.5%), a British broadcast television network and the UK’s largest advertising revenue based broadcaster
News Corp Europe
bTV, a broadcast television network in Bulgaria. They sold this to CME in February 2010.
B1 TV (12,5%), a broadcast television network in Romania, in partnership with Ismar International NVkkkk
Fox Televizija, a broadcast television network in Serbia (49%). They sold this to Antenna Group in January 2010
Fox Turkey, a Turkish terrestrial channel (56,5%) (formerly TGRT)
Imedi Media Holding (100%), a Georgian radio and TV broadcaster.
Israel 10 (9%), a terrestrial channel in Israel.
LNT (100%), a terrestrial channel in Latvia
TV5 Riga (100%), a terrestrial channel in Latvia
Cielo (100%), a free channel in Italy
ANTV (20%), a private television station in Indonesia, under the administration and label of STAR TV
Prime Television New Zealand – commercial TV station, interest held through stake in SKY Network Television
British Sky Broadcasting, United Kingdom & Ireland (39.1% holding). In practice, a controlling interest.
Sky Network Television, New Zealand (44%)
Sky Italia (100%), Italy’s largest pay TV service (previously owning part of Stream TV)
Sky Deutschland (49.90%), Germany’s largest pay TV provider
Tata Sky (30%), an Indian DirectToHome TeleVision Service Provider. (in partnership with Tata Group (70%))
Foxtel (25%), Australia, a joint venture with Telstra (50%) and Consolidated Media Holdings (25%)
FOX Italy, Italian Broadcast and Production Company (with 2 HDTV)
Star TV Channels (Satellite TeleVision Asian Region), an Asian satellite TV service having 300 million viewers in 53 countries, mainly in India, China & other Asian countries
Phoenix Television (17.6%), satellite TV network with landing rights in Hong Kong, and select provinces on Mainland China.
Cable TV channels owned (in whole or part) and operated by News Corporation include:
Fox Business Network, a business news channel.
Fox Classics, a channel airing classic TV shows & movies
Fox Movie Channel, an all-movie channel that airs commercial-free movies from 20th Century Fox’s film library
Fox News Channel, a 24-hour news & opinion channel
Fox Sports Networks, a chain of US regional cable news television networks broadcasting local sporting events linked together by national sports news programming. Local channels include “Fox Sports Southwest”, “Fox Sports Detroit”, etc. (some affiliates are owned by Cablevision).
SportSouth, a regional sports network in the United States, with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and affiliate of Fox Sports Net.
Sun Sports a regional sports network in the United States, with its headquarters in Miami, Florida, and affiliate of Fox Sports Net.
Fox College Sports, a college sports network consisting of three regionally aligned channels, mostly with archived Fox Sports Net programs but also some live and original content.
Fox Sports International
Fox Soccer Channel, a United States digital cable and satellite network specialising mainly in soccer.
Fox Soccer Plus, a sister network to FSC, but including coverage of other sports, most notably rugby. Launched in 2010 after News Corporation picked up many of the broadcast rights abandoned by Setanta Sports when it stopped broadcasting in the U.S.
Fox Sports Middle East – English language sports network airing in Middle East countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE & Yemen.
Fox Pan American Sports (37.9%) – joint venture with Hicks, Muse, and Tate & Furst.
Fox Sports en Español (50%), a Spanish-language North American cable sports network; its sports line-up is tailored to appeal to a Latin American audience.
Fox Sports en Latinoamérica, a Latin American satellite and cable sports network.
FX Networks, a cable network broadcasting reruns of programming previously shown on other channels, but recently creating its own programming, including the Emmy Award-winning programs The Shield and Damages.
Big Ten Network, cable and satellite channel dedicated to The Big Ten Conference, launched Aug 2007 (49%)
National Geographic Channel (joint venture with National Geographic Society) 67%
National Geographic Channel International 75%
Nat Geo Mundo (joint venture with National Geographic Society)
Nat Geo Wild (joint venture with National Geographic Society)
Fox International Channels, domestic cable channels offering different formats of Fox programming in over thirty countries worldwide.
Fox Life HD
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel HD
National Geographic Wild
National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Music
National Geographic Junior
Real Estate TV
Fox Toma 1 – Spanish-language television production.
Fox Telecolombia – Spanish-language television production. (51%)
Utarget.Fox – European and Latin American online ad company, plus now handles TV ad sales.
Central & South America
Fox Latin American Channels – channels available in over 17 countries in Latin America
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel HD
National Geographic Wild
Nat Geo Music
Fox One-Stop Media – advertising sales for company owned and third party channels in Latin America
LAPTV (60%) (Latin American Pay Television) operates 8 cable movie channels throughout South America excluding Brazil.
Telecine(12.5%) operates 5 cable movie channels in Brazil.
Premier Media Group (50%)
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
Fox Sports 3
Fuel TV Australia
Premium Movie Partnership (20%) – movie channels, a joint venture between 20th Century Fox, Sony, NBC Universal, Viacom and Liberty Media
Hathway Cable & Datacom (22.2%), India’s 2nd largest cable network through 7 cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai & Pune
Total TV (20%), Pay TV platform with JV partner KOO’s Group majority owner (80%). News Corp also has a 20% interest in the KOO’s Group directly
News Corp. Digital Media
Foxsports.com – website with sports news, scores, statistics, video and fantasy sports
Hulu (27%) – online video streaming site in partnership with NBC Universal and The Walt Disney Company.
Flektor – provides Web-based tools for photo and video editing and mashups.
IGN Entertainment – Internet entertainment portal (Includes the sites IGN, GameSpy, TeamXbox, 1up.com, and Askmen.com)
Slingshot Labs – web development incubator (Includes the sites DailyFill).
Strategic Data Corp – interactive advertising company which develops technology to deliver targeted internet advertising.
WhatIfSports.com – sports simulation and prediction website. Also provides fantasy-style sports games to play.
Indya.com – ‘India’s no. 1 Entertainment Portal’
ROO Group Inc (5% increasing to 10% with performance targets)
News Digital Media
News.com.au – Australian-oriented news website
CareerOne.com.au (50%) – recruitment advertisement website in partnership with Monster Worldwide.
Moshtix.com.au– a ticket retailer
Wego News owns minority stake in Wego.com
Netus (75%) – investment co. in online properties.
REA Group (60.7%)
Casa.it (69.4%), Sky Italia also holds a 30.6% share
atHome group, operator of leading realestate websites in Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Germany.
Altowin (51%),provider of office management tools for realestate agents in Belgium.
Propertyfinder.com (50%), News International holds the remaining 50%
Sherlock Publications, owner of hotproperty.co.uk portal and magazine titles ‘Hot Property’, ‘Renting’ and ‘Overseas’
ukpropertyshop.co.uk, most comprehensive UK estate agent directory.
PropertyLook, property websites in Australia and New Zealand.
HomeSite.com.au home renovation and improvement website.
Square Foot Limited, Hong Kong’s largest English Language property magazine and website
Primedia – Holding co. of Inside DB, a Hong Kong lifestyle magazine.
TadpoleNet Media (10%) Hosts of ArmySailor.com
Fatso – leading online DVD subscription service (ownership through stake in Sky Network Television).
Fox Networks – one of the largest international ad networks.
Expedient InfoMedia blog network.
NDS Group – Conditional access technology and personal digital video recorders (PVRs) (49%)
Broadsystem Ltd (UK) – Telephony provider for media companies, bought in 1991
Broadsystem Australia (Australia)
Broadsystem Ventures (UK) – provider of cheap-rate telephone calls, particularly for customers of Sky Television. Bought outright in 1999.
Jamba! – Mobile Entertainment/Mobile Handsets Personalisation/Games.
News Outdoor Group – Largest outdoor advertising company in Eastern Europe with over 70,000 ads including billboards and bus shelters, operating in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Israel, Poland, Romania, Russia (96 cities), Turkey & Ukraine.
Maximedia Israel (67%)
Mosgorreklama (50%) – Russia sign and marketing material manufacturer
Kamera Acikhava Reklamclik (?) – leading outdoor advertising company in Turkey
Australian Associated Press (45%) – real time news service.
STATS, Inc. (50%) – worlds leading provider of sporting information and statistical analysis (a JV with Associated Press)
Fox Sports Grill (50%) – Upscale sports bar and restaurant with 7 locations – Scottsdale, Arizona; Irvine, California; Seattle, Washington (U.S. state)|Washington; Plano, Texas; Houston, Texas; San Diego, California; and Atlanta, Georgia (U.S. state)|Georgia.
Fox Sports Skybox (70%) – Sports fan’s Bar & Grill at Staples Center and 6 airport restaurants.
News America Marketing (US) – (100%) – nation’s leading marketing services company, products include a portfolio of in-store, home-delivered and online media under the SmartSource brand.
Rotana (9%) – Largest Arab entertainment company owned by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
The Daily – iPad only newspaper delivered daily.
Making Fun – social game developer for making games for social networking sites, smartphones, tablets and other devices.
So quite obviously the real reason that the Murdoch’s are hostile to the BBC at every possible opportunity, is that the BBC is embedded into the market, and cannot be bought out, or beaten out of the market, by the Murdoch’s, despite the Murdoch’s having such power and influence over what we see, hear, and think.
Let us also not forget just who commercial media – such as News International – are accountable to. Advertisers deciding what makes the news, can be devastating for press freedom. We must get out of the mindset that government control over press freedom is terrible (which it is) yet corporate control is ‘free’ (which it isn’t). For example, the Times reported in 2005 that General Motors had pulled it’s advertising for the L.A Times, after the L.A Times called for Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, to be sacked.
Morgan Stanley went one step further in May 2005 and added threats into it’s advertising contracts with newspapers across America, the following:
“In the event that objectionable editorial coverage is planned, news agency must inform Morgan Stanley, as a last minute change may be necessary. If an issue arises after hours or a call cannot be made, immediately cancel all Morgan Stanley ads for a minimum of 48 hours”.
Advertising, big business, has the potential to control what makes the news, and that is far more worrying that a large publicly funded BBC. As is the fact that media outlets that do not follow mainstream pro-free market fundamentalism, cannot attract advertisers. Advertising distorts the media market more than any other form.
Let us not forget that the BBC is at the very forefront of quality programming.
Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Francesco’s Venice, Walking With Dinosaurs – all great BBC documentaries. Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, The Office, The Mighty Boosh – all great BBC comedies. Question Time, Newsnight, The Politics Show, Panorama, the coverage of Parliament – all great informative BBC shows. Panorama is by far the best investigative broadcast on British TV. There is no other show that comes close. It exposed bribery at Fifa before the voting for the 2018 World Cup, in 2010, whilst The Sun was busy telling us that a shop had banned a toy pig in case it upset muslims. In 2011, Panorama exposed care home abuse on a huge scale (where were the commercial investigative journalists?) An investigation that even the Daily Mail said:
“Without the investigation by the BBC’s Panorama, given huge coverage in the Mail, the abuse of patients at Winterbourne View might be continuing to this day.”
In 2009 it aired an investigation into the child sex abuse scandal surrounding the Catholic Church and suggested that the Pope may have known more than the ‘nothing’ he claims to have known about the scandal.
- Let’s not lose sight of what makes the BBC so essential.
The BBC is without a doubt the best news and information platform in the UK. It is revered the World over. It inspires creativity, and ingenuity in its programming. It 99% of the time performs quality journalism, essential to a country like the UK in which gutter journalism is the norm. It is not beholden to advertisers, it doesn’t provide support for political parties in exchange for an easy ride through to owning, for example, BSKYB. It makes mistakes, it has massive internal issues, and it is going to have to deal with its shady and frankly disgusting past when it comes to child abuse. It must remain independent, impartial, and public. We must protect it. It cannot be allowed to fall because of the noise created by those on the right who have longed for the day that it is privatised. It’s independence and its impartiality are crucial. Addressing misleading remarks by dutifully resigning is the right step (A step that Jeremy Hunt unfortunately chose to ignore) But restoring integrity and quality is the most important hurdle it must over come. A hurdle that media outlets like Sky, The Sun, Fox, and the Daily Mail (surprisingly all right winged) kicked over and pissed on long ago.