March 23

Republican movement turns on Rupert Murdoch

In 1999 the mainstream media energetically supported the ARM. But when ACM was allowed equal access on some commercial talk back radio programmes, it was the ARM who complained.

They demanded the minister have me removed from the Broadcasting Authority – as if I decided who could appear on radio.

An independent and eminent authority, the former British editor Lord Deedes summed up the situation.

He observed in the London Daily Telegraph on 8 November, 1999: 

“I have rarely attended elections in any country, certainly not a democratic one, in which the newspapers have displayed more shameless bias. One and all, they determined that Australians should have a republic and they used every device towards that end.”

If anyone should have complained it was ACM.

  

…Murdoch attacked by ARM

 

What is truly extraordinary is that  having launched a very personal attack on the Prime Minister – who is committed to moving to a politicians’ republic at the end of the reign – the republican movement’s media chief  has now  turned on Rupert Murdoch. And he is a staunch  republican.

The ARM’s media chief cites  an AJA submission to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal alleging that Rupert Murdoch is an autocratic and unprincipled proprietor who demands that his lackeys publish distorted accounts of the news when it suited him. The ARM media chief says an abundance of evidence to support this view.

But the submission is over 30 years old.

Then he concedes this may not be true. He adds that where ‘one proprietor owns such a large swathe of the Australian media industry, the danger of interference in our democracy is present and clear.’

The fact is that his takeover of the Herald and Weekly Times was not opposed by the ACCC’s predecessor. And further dominance came from other outlets closing for market and viability reasons.

In my many years at the Press Council, I never heard a specific substantiated complaint about Rupert Murdoch’s impropriety. Indeed the late Adrian Deamer defended Murdoch’s right to sack him as editor of the Australian, which he had.

Murdoch’s contribution in Australia has been positive. The press is lively, without that extremely bad taste and excesses  of an outlet like the News of the World.

..The Australian…

His great gift to Australia is our national newspaper, The Australian.

It is said to be the type of newspaper about which activists would demonstrate  if Rupert Murdoch threatened to acquire it.

Sometimes it can be obsessive, even over the top. That is because, believe it or not, editors are human.
This was most marked over the 1999 referendum when it seemed  so desperate and almost hysterical as the vote approached that it gave away  bumper stickers calling for a No Vote.

Hardly the behaviour of a serious national newspaper.

But overall Mr. Murdoch's contribution has been positive.

 


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