Private papers were released last night from the Thatcher Foundation which show the secret meeting Rupert Murdoch had with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to make sure his bid the The Times and Sunday Times would not be referred to the Monopolies and Merger’s commission in return for more political support, and an introduction to Ronald Reagan’s political circle. The eminent and brilliant editor Harold Evans of the Sunday Times, who was against all assurances ousted by Rupert Murdoch, said on a BBC Radio Interview this morning (starts around 1:49).
“The whole thing is so squalid I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at being vindicated after all this time”
Well, like father like son, and a certain correspondent has more about this on the Daily Beast. I can’t quote him fully, even though that correspondent is me, for copyright reasons. But here’s the key update from my research:
Flash forward 30 years and Rupert’s son James, hoping to seal his role as heir apparent, planned to take over the whole of BSkyB, Britain’s monopoly pay-TV satellite service. The move would breach competition law and the stringent “pluralism'” test of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. But in 2008, in his first major speech as News Corp senior executive, James called for Ofcom’s powers to be removed. In July 2009, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron made a similar speech. A month later, at the Edinburgh Television Festival, James called for the BBC to be downsized. Two months later the Sun, now under the direct control of James, reversed twelve years of Labor support. At the general election in 2010, all News International papers told their readership to vote Conservative.
With David Cameron finally in 10 Downing Street, and with his father Rupert one of the first visitors James launched his $15-billion bid for the remaining share of BSkyB in May 2010. Again there was uproar in the press, and questions were raised in Parliament.
But then the story broke of the phone-hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler. The bid was withdrawn
We now know the details of the meetings between Murdoch and Thatcher at her country residence in Chequers in 1981. When will we discover what was really discussed between Cameron and James when they met at Chequers in November 2010? Or in July that summer? Or at Christmas a month later? Will it take another 30 years for the truth to come out?
And in other news, as you can see above, Eric Lewis has a brilliant new cartoon outlining Murdoch’s tentacular grasp of newspapers in the English Speaking word. No doubt we’ll need another to explore his multiple TV, satellite and cable holdings throughout the world.
And in celebration of James’ resignation from News International, and the rearrest of Rebekah Brooks earlier this week, the book I’m doing with Eric has been renamed simple The Fall of the House of Murdoch