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From: The Socialist issue 735, 26 September 2012: Action against austerity

Search site for keywords: News International - Media - Tommy Sheridan - Andy Coulson - David Cameron

Murdoch empire: a whole barrel of bad apples

Jim McFarlane, Socialist Party Scotland

The media regulator Ofcom have bizarrely concluded that BSkyB is a "fit and proper" company to hold a broadcasting licence.

Ofcom carried out an investigation into the broadcaster in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that forced the closure of the News of the World newspaper.

Under the Broadcasting Act 1990 Ofcom have a duty to ensure that broadcasting licences are "fit and proper".

There have been numerous allegations that senior executives at News International must have known about the widespread use of phone hacking so it is hard to understand how Ofcom can reach the conclusions they have.

They have severely criticised James Murdoch for his role. They concluded that his conduct at the newspaper group repeatedly fell short of the conduct expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman.

Ofcom said "We consider James Murdoch's conduct, including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.

"We consider that the events... raise questions regarding James Murdoch's competence in the handling of these matters, and his attitude towards the possibility of wrongdoing in the companies for which he was responsible."

Systemic

This investigation tries to again blame the systemic wrongdoing of the Murdoch-led companies on the failure of one individual.

The reality is that these organisations acted as if they were beyond reproach. The influence they exercised over governments and politicians meant that leading politicians up to senior levels of government, including prime ministers, either ignored or failed to act against the interests of the Murdoch empire.

The anger and revulsion felt by millions of people over the phone hacking scandal has pushed Rupert Murdoch and his son to issue apologies over some of the worst cases that have been exposed but these are just crocodile tears.

This show of contrition is just that, a show with no real acceptance of guilt of serious malpractices.

Numerous staff of News International are now facing serious criminal charges. The range of individuals include Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former spin doctor, as well as a number of senior staff at the Scottish News of the World who were involved in the sleazy stories used against Tommy Sheridan and the subsequent perjury trial.

Until those cases are concluded it is hard to see how Ofcom could have reached the decisions that it has.

Only a full trade union-led public investigation could be trusted to find out what exactly went on and to put in place a democratic form of regulation for the media industry that ensures that the rich and powerful cannot be allowed to dominate news provision.






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