Evidence is mounting that Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire conspired illegally with private investigators to tap telephones and hack into computers. A recent murder trial disclosed that Murdoch’s editors paid $150,000 a year to private investigator Jonathan Rees, previously convicted of planting false evidence to frame an innocent woman.
It may be mere coincidence that the British government recently decided to approve Murdoch’s expansion of his media ownership. Many contend that Murdoch’s increase from a 39% to 100% share in Britain’s largest satellite television provider, BSkyB, does not matter. They are mostly members of the Conservative Party, who won Murdoch’s support in last year’s general election. Opponents tend to come from the Labour Party, which Murdoch backed in their victorious election campaigns of 1997, 2001, and 2005 before dropping them in 2010. Sour grapes?
Should any company control as much of the British media as Murdoch’s News Corporation does? And is News Corporation worthy of the national trust to provide so large a share of its information and cultural output? There is no doubt that granting Murdoch complete control of BSkyB will enable him to use it as a platform to bundle his newspaper, Internet, and television products into cheap packages that will give it a greater advantage over its competitors than America’s railroads enjoyed over horse-drawn wagons in the late 19th century. Neither the left-of-center Guardian nor the right-of-center Daily Telegraph could compete with such offerings, particularly in an era of declining newspaper readership.
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