A people will only be free when their control their own communications Mr Murdoch

September 19th, 2010

The headline is a quote from Frantz Fanon someone who was recognised as an authority on post colonial rule, Fanon’s statement about people, society, communication and freedom is encapsulated in the point Will Hutton makes, link to Observer story (here), when addressing as he calls it, the malign influence of Rupert Murdoch on British Life. One moment in my early working life made me realise that the media in whatever form shapes our world view (or has done up until recently) and depending on where one got ones information from would profoundly affect that world view. However that said – this is not the time to be complaceent in the face of a powerful beast.

Likening Murdoch as not dissimilar to the character Hyman Roth in the Godfather 11 – Hutton asserts,

Murdoch is a problem for British society and the News of the World phone-hacking story – given further impetus over the last 10 days by the New York Times and the Guardian – is a symptom of the chronic malignity of his power.

The point being politics in the UK at the highest level has been neutered by Murdoch’s own business agenda. Colonialists reside here in the UK – and they are called the Murdoch’s – perhaps Hutton’s subterfuge in referencing Hyman Roth points too into darker corners of the human soul. And the crux argues Hutton is this,

Murdoch has become one of the political issues of our time, as menacing in his own special way to democracy and conduct of politics as many other threats our society faces, only we do not see it, because his power is used behind the scenes to extend his commercial influence and so his grip on the flow of so much of the information in Britain.

Blair’s deputy director of communications, Lance Price, called Murdoch the 24th member of the cabinet. “His presence was always felt,” he wrote. “No big decision could ever be made inside Number 10 without taking account of the likely reaction of three men – Gordon Brown, John Prescott and Rupert Murdoch. On all the really big decisions, anybody else could safely be ignored.

and I did not know that the old gunslinger from OZ – is now an American Citizen – ain’t that a fact.

His overriding concern is that the government remains covertly in step with his plans for expansion and that the flow of profits to News Corp remains uninterrupted. It is as though we had handed over a huge chunk of British agricultural land or given up our food distribution networks to a relentless foreign corporation.

Communications, media, people, society, freedom – power. NewsCorp wants a special sort of power – that is above politics. Its pure power, and its purpose is more power, my worry is that the networked world may unravel NewsCorp, but NewsCorp will lay waste and crush as much as it can to protect its powerful position. Hutton reflects

I often wonder what Murdoch and his family will leave behind when they pass from the scene – the memory of an extraordinarily successful business empire and of many conquests no doubt, but there will be few monuments, libraries, inventions, endowments, galleries or campaigns for justice to remember them by; merely a vague sense of depletion and of a power that existed, to a bewildering degree, for its own sake.

He’s no Medici then? There is reference in the article about the Plurarity Commission, media economics of the UK,  and the European Commission -  late night and recent  unscheduled calls to Number 10 Downing Street – and then that lingering question, like the acrid whiff of dog shit,  but you don’t know where it comes from – after all the Broohaha why was Andy Coulson (ex news of the world) appointed communications director? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer kind of stratregy? Finally Hutton writes,

As matters stand, to delegate the decision to Brussels’s competition authorities, which are notoriously reluctant to act, is far too dangerous. All politicians should understand the danger of the kind of media dominance NI is now developing in Britain. We will mourn our great newspapers, our choice of television and the BBC when they have gone. Now is the moment to defend them.

And I say amen to that.

The story of media ownership, power and democracy is covered in the book No Straight Lines: making sense of our non-linear world click here for (Open Access Book)

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