Posts Tagged ‘Licence Fee’

Murdoch’s Daughter Being Considered as Next Beeb Director-General

February 11, 2020

This is ominous. According to an article by Adam Sherwin in yesterdays I for Monday, 9th February 2020, the BBC is considering appointing Elisabeth Murdoch, Dirty Rupe’s daughter, as its first female Director-General. The I’s article seems to think this will be a positive move, as she isn’t supposed to be hostile to the Beeb like her father. And the appointment of one of Murdoch’s family as the Beeb’s chief will supposedly deter Downing Street from making any further attacks on the Corporation. The article runs

Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, who became a successful television entrepreneur in her own right, has emerged as a surprise candidate to run the BBC.

Mus Murdoch, former head of Shine UK – the production company behind MasterChef and Broadchurch – would be seen as an acceptable director-general by the BBC’s Downing Street critics. However, the prospect of the broadcaster being run by a member of the Murdoch family, which has campaigned against the licence fee-funded BBC through its newspapers, will shock many at the corporation.

I has learned that the BBC is appointing headhunters to broaden the search for a new leader, following the announcement that Tony Hall is leaving.

Current favourites include Charlotte Moore, BBC director of vision, the best-placed internal candidate; Jay Hunt, former head of BBC1 and Channel 4, who now leads Apple’s European TV commissioning; Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4; and ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Insiders say the BBC is almost certain to appoint its first female director-general.

The BBC board, led by Sir David Clementi, is seeking a figure with proven leadership in the creative industries who carries enough authority in Whitehall to guide the BBC through tough negotiations over the future of the licence fee.

Ms Murdoch, who pocketed £130m when she sold Shine to 20th Century Fox, ticks many of the boxes. She does not share her family’s antipathy to the BBC, having sold 20 shows to the broadcaster as a producer.

Stepping aside from her family’s succession battle, Ms Murdoch, 51, has spoken in support of the “universal licence fee” but urged the BBC to how “efficiently that funding is being spent on actual content”.

It is not clear if Ms Murdoch would welcome an approach for the £450,000 post. last year she co-founded Sister, a global television production business which developed the acclaimed Sky drama Chernobyl.

Although Downing Street’s choice to lead the BBC would be a longstnding critic such as Rebekah Brooks, CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, a figure such as Ms Murdoch would prove an acceptable compromise.

In a box article next to this, ‘Power play Smart move?’, Sherwin also writes

Although the appointment of the new director-general is a matter for the BBC board, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s top aide, has privately warned that a ‘business as usual’ successor to Tony Hall would only hasten the end of the licence fee.

Handing the BBC’s future to a scion of the Murdoch dynasty would be a bold move for the broadcaster.

Elisabeth Murdoch has £300m in the bank, boosted by dividends from her father’s sale of Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney, and has made a number of strategic investments in digital start-ups.

But another option could be Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive. Hired by Ms Murdoch for her Shine group in 2006, it was Ms Mahon who brought the Broadchurch producer Kudos into the business.

The upside of luring Ms Murdoch, once named the fifth most powerful woman in Britain in a Woman’s Hour poll, is the weight her name would carry in negotiations over the BBC'[s future with Downing Street. “It could be a genius move. They woulnd’t dare f**k with a Murdoch,” said one insider.

My guess is that even if Murdoch became director-general, she’d still carry on the and increase the Beeb’s right-wing political bias. I also think that she’d carry out some further privatisation and quiet dismantling of the Beeb for the benefit of its competitors, but not as outright as Cummings and BoJob would quite wish.

Whoever gets installed as the next director-general will still be under pressure to get rid of the licence fee, though I’m sure the Tories would hesitate at attacking one of Murdoch’s own family because of the power of the Murdoch press. On the other hand, she could well reverse her previous positive attitude to the Beeb, and become an enthusiast for its dismantlement once she become D-G.

Whatever happens, the Beeb is still in serious danger. But because of its massive political bias, its traditional defenders on the Left are no longer as willing to support it.

 

Viva Zapatero: The Beeb, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and Political Censorship in Television

February 24, 2016

One of the issues that comes up regularly is the question of BBC bias. In actual fact, there doesn’t seem to be much question there. BBC News is very biased against the left and in favour of the Tories. There have been studies done by media monitoring organisations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere. Mike over at Vox Political has pointed out that the Beeb will ignore certain strikes, or grudgingly give them coverage only online. There was anger the other week when the panel on Question Time was nearly all composed of right-wingers. Nick Robinson censored and distorted one of Alex Salmond’s speeches during the Scots independence campaign to make it appear he didn’t answer a question when he did. Robinson was the former head of the Young Conservatives at Manchester University. And Laura Kuenssberg doesn’t really bother writing her own material any more. She just recycles press releases from Tory central office.

But ’twas ever thus. One of the commenters on this blog pointed out that the Beeb ran government propaganda against the strikers during the General Strike. Yet still the right jumps up and down ranting about ‘liberal’ bias at the BBC. There are liberal voices there, but they’re increasingly kept away from the main news and comment.

Kampfner in his book Freedom for Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty describes the development elsewhere in the world of similar political bias and censorship in television. He looks at the way Sarkozy in France and Berlusconi in Italy both overtly sought to extend state control over television in order to suppress or censor unfavourable broadcasting. In the case of Sarkozy, the centre-right president passed a series of legislation in 2009 which reinforced government control over publicly owned television stations. This was aimed at phasing out commercial advertising, which would be replaced by government funding. Kampfner states that this made French television dependent on the goodwill of the central government. He also removed the responsibility for nominating the Chief Executive of France Televisions, and instead made it one of the powers of the presidency. He also ensure that the contract could be severed at any time, and the CEO dismissed. (p. 181).

It’s not hard to see parallels between this and the way the government has continually exerted pressure on the BBC. I can remember John Major’s administration threatening the Beeb with cuts in the licence fee, or refusing to raise the licence fee to extent desired by the broadcaster. The Tories have also made noises about not renewing the Corporation’s charter, and privatising it, either wholly or in part.

The most extreme example of state political control of television in Europe outside Putin’s Russia and the former Soviet bloc is probably Berlusconi in Italy. Kampfner states that Berlo not only owned the major private broadcasters, but also very strictly controlled state television. Editors and managers, who refused to toe his line were removed from their posts after the diminutive Duce had a few words with the board. Those TV shows he didn’t like, or which criticised him, were taken off the air. One of the most notorious of these was the satirical show, Raiot, shown late nights on Rai Tre, Italian TV’s third channel. This directly lampooned Berlo himself, and so not only did the vain squadristo with the dodgy hair implants have it pulled from television, his private TV station, Mediaset, sued. Sabina Guzzanti, the show’s writer, made a film about this debacle, entitled Viva Zapatero. This became a surprise hit and the Cannes Film Festival It’s title is not just a homage to the film, Viva Zapata, but also a tribute to the Spanish centre-left president, Jose Zapatero, who removed the right to nominate the head of the state television authority from presidential control.

Censorship and political bias at the Beeb long predates the modern, insistent Tory bias, but it seems to be a part of the increasing right-wing authoritarianism across Europe, a process that needs to be tackled before free speech is gradually snuffed out across the continent.

More about the Raiot affair can be read here, on the site for US Citizens for Peace and Justice: http://www.peaceandjustice.it/o25-viva-zapatero.php

I found this English language interview from 2008 with Guzzanti, where she talks a bit about the Raiot incident, and her forthcoming movie, Sympathy for the Lobster. Influenced by Jean-Luc Godard’s film about the Rolling Stones, she says that this movie is about what happens when you want to change society politically, but can’t because politics is too corrupt. She also mentions that she has two more films in production, one on satirists and censorship, and another which was to be a straightforward documentary on Italian society.

If you can speak Italian or Spanish, here’s the trailer for the film Viva Zapatero itself. It’s in Italian, with Spanish subtitles. There are piece of English. This includes a sketch she did as Berlusconi with our own Rory Bremner as Tony Bliar, and a Spitting Image-like puppet sequence where Dubya and the other leaders sing ‘We fight the world’. Oh yes, and at one point two of the characters from Pulp Fiction leap out and shoot Berlusconi.

Vox Political: Six MPs Explain Why They’re Voting against Bombing Syria

December 1, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has posted six individual pieces about Labour MPs, who are against bombing Syria, in which they give their reasons for opposing the government’s policy.

They are

Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood,
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/cat-smith-labours-lancaster-and-fleetwood-mp-will-not-support-air-strikes/

Jo Stevens, the MP for Cardiff Central
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/cardiff-central-mp-will-vote-against-air-strikes-in-syria/

Matthew Pennycook, the MP for Greenwich and Woolwich
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/greenwich-and-woolwich-mp-weighs-in-against-air-strikes-in-syria/

Paula Sheriff, the MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/paula-sheriff-labours-dewsbury-and-mirfield-mp-opposes-air-strikes/

John Mann. Mann has criticised Corbyn about the way he handled setting out Labour’s policy, putting his own beliefs ahead of everyone else’s. But he is also going to vote against bombing Syria.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/john-mann-is-a-corbyn-critic-but-like-corbyn-he-opposes-air-strikes-in-syria/

And Keir Starmer, the Labour MP for Holbourne and St. Pancras, formerly Director of Public Prosecutions
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/former-dpp-keir-starmer-is-no-pacifist-but-he-wont-support-air-strikes-in-syria/.

These give various reasons for not supporting Cameron’s decision. These include the lack of UN and international support, concern for the ordinary people caught up in the bombing and the further destabilisation that will occur, and the belief that bombing alone will not solve the problem. Starmer in particular makes it clear that Cameron’s statement that there are 70,000 fighters already in Syria willing to take our side is wholly unrealistic.

Mike has also written another long piece observing that the media seems desperate to make Labour seem responsible for Britain’s bombing of Syria, if this goes ahead, despite Corbyn and the majority of Labour members opposing it.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/01/syria-have-the-uk-news-media-ever-been-as-desperate-to-convince-the-public-of-a-lie/

This bias is shared not just by newspapers like the Metro, but also by the Beeb’s own Newsnight programme. The narrative being spun here is that if some Labour MPs do vote with the government, the bombing will be due to division in the Labour party. Mike observes that they’re desperate for a war and more blood spilt, but want to blame it on the Labour party instead of with the government.

I can’t say I’m surprised at the tactic. When Thatcher and Major were in power, the constant refrain from the Tories was that Labour was divided by factionalism, and hence a shambolic mess that shouldn’t be in power. Quite different from the confident and monolithic Tories, whipped into line by Maggie. This changed with the control-freakery of New Labour, but now that Cameron has emerged from the Left of the party – actually, the traditional centre ground before Bliar took it to the right – they’ve simply dusted off and revived that bit of Tory rhetoric. They’ve also remembered how unpopular the invasion of Iraq was, and how deeply Bliar and his crew have been resented for that. And so they’re determined to pin this on Corbyn’s Labour. Even though they’ve been loudly denouncing Corbyn for being somehow unpatriotic and openly supporting terrorism from the IRA to Osama bin Laden.

It’s unsurprising that most of the Tory media are against Labour. It’s also almost to be expected that Newsnight would follow suit. The Beeb is currently fending off Tory plans to strip it of the licence fee, or privatise it. Their response has been to roll over and adopt a fawningly pro-government position in the hope that it will somehow appease them. It won’t.

It’s also a strategy by which the media can hide their own volte face in supporting the bombing. Nearly a decade and a half ago, many Conservative MPs opposed the invasion of Iraq, and various Tory rags like the Spectator also took an anti-War line. Now they’re pro-war, in contrast to the grassroots of the Labour party, which is opposed to it. But it’s clearly an uncomfortable position. After all, Private Eye and other consistent critics of humbug by the great and good make a point of showing up cases where MPs and the media have changed their opinions when it’s been convenient. Their support for bombing now could cause people to question whether their opposition to the Iraq invasion came from genuine conviction, or simply because this time the calls for military action came from the Labour party. So they have to pass responsibility for bombing onto Labour, in order to avoid criticising their favoured party, the Tories, or appearing to contradict themselves by supporting military action in circumstances similar to Bliar’s invasion of Iraq.