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News Ad Nauseum

  • July 22nd, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

news-of-world-logo.jpgOPINION: Few could have expected a media story, about a tabloid empire, playing like a tabloid story – as it were.

THE REAL AND THE FANTASTIC

Sometimes myth meets reality.

guardian-shot.bmpThe Guardian headlined: “Murdoch’s Humble Pie: Tycoon expresses regret for News Corp’s phone tapping scandal but insists he was kept in dark”; with picture of the pie-throwing incident at the House of Commons inquiry. See EUAustralia Online, “Rupert Murdoch’s ‘most humble day'”, 20.7.11 …

time-cover-resized.JPGTime magazine joined in the sport, front-paging a tabloid dummy, and headline: “Scandal! How a tabloid meltdown threatens Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.”

In rhythm at least it started to resemble some of the fantasised joke headlines of the decades, as “sex-change Vicar rort in royal corgi rent-boy death”.

rupert-murdoch2.jpgThe media proprietor at the centre of the story, Rupert Murdoch, (intentionally?), helped it all along, talking about the “humblest day of his life”, and the story continued:
TALKING IT OUT IN THE HOUSE

david-cameron-anunewsnet.jpgThe British Prime Minister, David Cameron, proved a veritable talking machine, holding the floor in a marathon Commons debate (20.7.11), brought on to test claims against his government, and himself.

His hosting of luminaries from the Murdoch company, News International, at 10 Downing Street, while they bid to buy up the national pay-TV service, B-Sky-B:-  “I never had an inappropriate conversation.”

rebekah-brooks.jpgEntertaining pretty red-headed forty-three-year-old tabloid editor-chic , Rebekah Brooks:-  “I never held a slumber party … I never saw her in her pyjamas.”

His appointment of ex News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, to head government media, despite warnings by advisors over Coulsen’s own singeing in the phone-hacking scandal:-  “With 20-20 hindsight I don’t think I would have given him the job and I do not think he would have accepted it.”

That appointment was entirely on his own responsibility, the Prime Minister said.

So here and there a question came up on the Liberal-Democrats providing Mr Cameron’s parliamentary majority; are they really  content to have the leader of the Tory Party blunder into such decisions for the government as a whole?

THE QUESTIONS ABOUT MONEY

Questions piled up in the parliament, adding to the questions piled up already in the Select Committee proceedings the day before, especially about money paid in ex gratia settlements to certain victims of the hacking, and legal expenses or golden-handshakes for certain former employees.

James Murdoch, chief executive of News International, told the Select Committee of his realisation that payments involved were “very large sums of money, 100 000-pounds, 600 000 pounds!”

ACTION IN AUSTRALIA

Mr Murdoch senior was ungraciously dubbed the “dirty digger” in England, years ago, just because of his Australian patrimony, (and for publishing smutty newspapers they bought, in their millions) –  and the company in Australia, News Limited, has been active in damage containment this week.

It has announced an internal financial audit, possibly with an “independent element” in the form of some outside participants, and says the results will be made public.

Any chance some of those special payments in the United Kingdom, not known even to board members, would find their way through an affiliate in the group?

Watchers will be watching; all sorts of things have turned out to be possible.

News Limited’s television affiliate, Sky TV, have had an important iron in the fire, a contract bid, for money and prestige, to wrest program provision on the overseas Austalia Television Network from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

With the company reputation somewhat turning to mud overseas, debate around the Australian bid has generated some testiness.

A media writer with News Limited daily, The Australian, Caroline Overington, got cross with Professor Alan Knight, the Head of Journalism at the UTS university in Sydney, over an article he wrote for a rival newspaper.

He was too close to the ABC, she said, in discussing the pros and cons of the two claims on ATN.

Prof. Knight professed that his piece was balanced, chiding the ABC for, amongst other things, skimping on the news content, while allowing himself some comments about plentifulness, but trashiness of news on the commercial Sky.

He wrote up the episode in a blog, for the world to be the judge; see http://alanknight.wordpress.com/, (22.7.11).

The country’s largest media company, News Limited has also begun airing objections in its various titles to proposals for a review of mass media, not unlike the judicial inquiry being set up in the United Kingdom.

christine-milne.jpgPrime movers of that are the Green Party, their Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, on Thursday calling for it, in response to proposals on privacy protection from the Law Reform Commission.

“They don’t make those recommendations lightly”, she said.

Concentration of ownership might come under some timely scrutiny, given that “things in the media world are changing quickly”, and so might the “fit and proper person test” for media licensing, recalling the B-Sky-B affair in England.

John Hartigan, News Limited Chairman, took exception to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, suggesting the troubles in  England posed hard questions for his company.

Those were unjustified and regrettable comments, he said.

“We have answered every question put to us openly.”

assange-julian21.jpgIn the wings came reports that Julian Assange, that other kind of hacker, and from  Down Under,  non-corporate, scarcely commercial, hunted by authorities in such places as Sweden and the United States , was planning an appearance of some kind at a youth festival in his home state of Queensland. See EUAustralia Online: “Assange deportation order”, 26.2.11; “The hunt after Wikileaks and Julian Assange”, 8.12.10.

Mr Assange would not be invited to tea at No. 10 Downing Street; he has provided media organisations with hacked material, but not so much about the vulnerable and defenceless – dead soldiers’ wives, victims of terror, lost children – more, in his case, governments and corporations, the powerful and forbidding themselves.

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