Why Bother?

July 7th, 2011 by Bleak_Flat Leave a reply »

Lord Prescott, among others, is leading a charge to this website. They are very excited because they have persuaded 140,000 people to click a button, submitting the following to the Consultation on the proposed acquisition by News Corporation of BSkyB Group PLC.

Dear Mr. Cameron and Mr. Hunt,
The undertakings you are consulting on for the BSkyB takeover by News Corporation are not good enough and the takeover shouldn’t go ahead. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation already owns too much of our media and if this deal goes ahead would aggressively cross-promote its products, damaging rival news groups and restricting what we see and read.

The process for this deal is flawed. It looks at a limited set of issues, ignoring a major concern — that Murdoch  trashes media standards and ignores regulators. Hacking and other scandals show how his media often violates ethics and the law. There are serious gaps in the deal you outlined, including no fixed financial penalties for breaches. News Corporation can’t be trusted to stick to it.

I call on you to refuse to grant News Corporation any further control of British media until the deal has been reviewed by the competition commission and a full judge-led public inquiry into the hacking scandal is completed.

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I think even the normal, non-lawyers out there will spot the inconsistencies in this – how can they suggest the process has not complied with English law in the second paragraph (when Mr Hunt has confidently announced he will publish the legal advice stating that it had) and then encourage those laws be ignored on a whim to comply with the request in the last paragraph?  At the slightest appearance of bias, a leading figure in the coalition government was publicly spanked and had the brief withdrawn, which is why this is Mr Hunt’s problem in the first place.  Why should News Corp pay “fixed financial penalties for breaches” when no other media outlet in the UK has such an obligation?  Can those clicking away point to examples of where News Corporation’s output had been found in breach of the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice and failed to comply with findings on that complaint?

Of course I’m not suggesting that members of the public don’t have a right to express their reservations about the deal – it’s very healthy for our democracy that they do.  I also suspect that those closely following the intricacies of the deal could credibly respond to most of the challenges I raise above.  My frustration is with a mob-mentality being given the ability to auto-generate the guff above, to which they have applied absolutely no thought.  I think it lessens the value of having the consultation and will make the government wary of holding such consultations again if they are simply going to be flooded by what is, as far as I can tell, spam.

I refuse to accept Lord Prescott as a leader of those greatly wronged by the tabloid press.  He was the Deputy Prime Minister, caught using the perks of his Office to woo his mistress.  I agree press tactics and maybe even a privacy law should be considered in light of recent allegations, but the test for such measures for me will always mean that such an abuse of power will always get published.

The consultation closes tomorrow – if you have something to contribute, the email is bskyb-newscorp.consultation2@culture.gsi.gov.uk , but at least take the time to write it yourself.

On the most recent news, I see many people are excited that the News of the World will close.  Personally, I think there are British newspapers that emit a far greater level of nonsense and malice than the News of the World has ever published.  It is no surprise that thieving MPs, match-fixing Sportsmen, hypocritical TV journalists, rogue members of the Royal Family, polluting companies and coke-huffing supermodels will delight in the loss of the 186 year-old paper  –  it’s one less watcher holding them to account.

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1 comment

  1. Totally agree with the spam argument. I’d never sign anything with the word “I” in it unless I’d written it myself.

    There is much to enjoy in the present scandal, but I questioned on my own blog the motives of politicians calling for restrictions on the media when they have so much of their own dirt to hide.

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