Murdoch’s Sky bid is thought now very likely to succeed, despite most probably being referred to the Competition and Markets Authority. The previous bid, which was frustrated by the phone hacking scandal, was noted (10.7.2011) on this site as follows: ‘The Murdochs are clearly prepared to be as ruthless and dishonest as it takes, in pursuit of their own self-interest. Their dishonesty, now being revealed daily, was confirmed early on …’ Harold Evans, editor of the Times when the Murdochs took over, had confirmed that every assurance of editorial independence made as a condition of the acquisition, had been broken within a year. Evans concluded the Murdochs would ‘promise anything to gain control’.
That posting continued ‘The Murdochs’ utter ruthlessness is also being demonstrated daily by the continuing revelations of criminal activity sanctioned in their organisation, and not least by the abrupt closure of the News Of The World with the destruction of around 200 jobs, in some vain attempt to rescue vestiges of public respect for the family.’
Having been thwarted on that occasion, they are now back again. They still do not look like ‘fit and proper persons’ to own media companies, but Culture secretary Karen Bradley, is prepared to let those bygones be bygones.
However, she is still ‘minded’ to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority on grounds of media plurality. The full takeover would enable the Murdochs to exert considerable control over the news agenda. In these days of fake news, when the Trumped up versions of truth are widely accepted over the reality, that must be of some concern. That was clearly an important new ingredient in our recent referendum and election campaigns.
The Sky deal would be a small step towards an important end point: our being controlled by what Roosevelt referred to as organised money. He was referring to the big financialised corporates which control the real economy. They also control finance and the media. They are hugely influential in academia through the funding of research, academic institutions and individual appointments. They also, increasingly, appear to control political decision making through the $multi-billion funded lobbying industry, the politically oriented think-tanks and the operation of the revolving doors through which individuals progress between these various sectors and government.
Just about the only thing that organized money does not control is itself. That is because it is organised by a simplistic ideology, rather than being a conspiracy of evil minded monsters. However, the effect is much the same.
All it requires is a common belief in what is widely referred to as neoliberal economics. Based on the notion of self-interest maximizing economic man and perfectly competitive markets – both of which are obviously simplistic falsehoods – it encourages the destruction of competition with cartel and monopoly, which are now being allowed to develop with much reduced constraint and regulation. Moreover, even where some mechanisms of constraint still survive, they are so inadequately resourced that, like the Competition and Markets Authority, they are fairly ineffective. Murdoch’s acquisition of Sky would be one more, small step in that process towards monopolistic exploitation of markets for the exclusive gain of those in control.
Many such examples of this general process have been reported in banking, professional service provision, commodity traders and so on, as well as predation on real businesses such as Cadbury and Boots. Similarly, the privatization and outsourcing of public provision including energy supply, water, health and social care, care homes, education, prisons and so on. The only justification for such, could be, according to the belief system, an increase in efficiency of operation. But the only actual changes that are mandated are the payment of a return to shareholders and the increased cost of bureaucracy involved in erecting the pretence of a competitive market.
The truth about these various initiatives is slowly becoming recognized in the fog of fake news and falsified theory. The result is destruction, which the Murdoch organization will, no doubt, be glad to report in full.