Murdoch: reaction from the web to Hunt’s BSkyB decision

We’re going to be pulling in reaction from around the web on Media Week’s blog today on the decision by culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to give the go-ahead to Rupert Murdoch to take over BSkyB.

How much exactly does the deal mean to Murdoch? According to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 Andrew Neil put it like this: Rupert Murdoch “would have sold his granny to get the rest of BSkyB” says @afneil #R4Today.

The reaction from the social web appears to be (unsurprisingly) negative with many attacking the close relationship between David Cameron and Murdoch’s News Corporation. The hiving off of Sky News is seen as too little a concession (at least by some).

The New Statesman tweeted that “Murdoch is now free to create a media giant, the likes of which Britain has never seen New Statesman – Murdoch eyes the prize as BSkyB profits soar”.

@ePolitix quotes the Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan wondering if the reason Jeremy Hunt isn’t delivering BSkyB statement until 3pm is that “Rupert Murdoch hasn’t written it yet” while fellow Labour MP @johnmcdonnellMP sees it as a simple case of payback.
Also speaking on Today David Elstein, the former Sky executive, said that as a viewer he regretted that the channel was being distanced from financial security. “The reality is that Murdoch has never tried to influence the output of Sky News,” he said.

BBC business editor, Robert Peston, said Murdoch had made more concessions that he wanted.

“Correspondence published today between Mr Hunt and News Corp indicates that News Corp has – under pressure – made greater concessions than it wanted to do guarantee Sky News’ independence.

“And as a result of these concessions, Ofcom – the media regulator – has said that the harm its perceives as flowing from the deal, that it would restrict choice or plurality of news providers, would be purged. Even so there will be a storm of protest that Mr Hunt is allowing the deal.”

Former head of digital at the Guardian @emilybell has congratulations for James Murdoch: “‘spin off’ of Sky News to remedy NewsInt’s control over UK media astonishing. Hats off to James Murdoch; incredible coup”.

Media pundit Steve Hewlett, said: that the underlying motivation behind the complaints from rival media groups, which say they will fight on, was primarily commercial and that the European Commission looked at this deal from a competition point of view which looked at issues of potential bundling.

“… and the idea that the billion pound profits from Sky would be poured into some sort of ghastly price war by bundling services in a way that would make it very hard for others to compete … personally it seems to me that there may well be something in that argument but the Commission said there were no competition issues.”

On that same question Times columnist David Aaronovitch wondered whether the media alliance against Murdoch asked the right question.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor whose paper was part of the media alliance campaigning against Murdoch, tweeted his lack of surprise.

Also at the Guardian Dan Sabbagh concludes that Murdoch’s position as an unofficial member of the British cabinet has barely been threatened.

“Jeremy Hunt has handled a difficult situation fairly well – even keeping out of the Murdoch family’s way during the crunch negotiations of the past few weeks. After putting together a quick canny BBC funding deal, and getting Lord Patten into the chairmanship there too, he is a man on the up.

“As for Rupert Murdoch, his position as an unofficial member of the British cabinet has barely been threatened. But then, did anybody ever expect that it would?”

The Stop Rupert Murdoch web campaign that launched in the last few days has more than 258,000 signatures and quickly growing:

EmmaLWarren‎ tweets: Send a message to ministers urging them to stand up to Rupert Murdoch! Avaaz – UK: Stop Rupert Murdoch!

Others on Twitter are also wondering how do you stop Murdoch @davelength says  “he only way to stop Murdoch is to cancel your Sky subscriptions. Petitions and Twitter outrage will achieve nothing”.

Many others are having the same idea: “mrtgrady‎ Really want to stop Rupert Murdoch controlling news media and influencing politics? Stop buying his papers and satellite channels service…”.

But Murdoch has friends out there too (and not just in government) as this tweet from MH_liberal‎ shows: “UK: STOP THE HATE OF RUPERT MURDOCH. #p2/tcot/cspanwj/foxnews/foxandfriends”.

The Media Blog neatly illustrates how Hunt brought the full might of his regulatory powers to bear on Murdoch.

Adam Curtis, the documentary film maker, whose work includes The Power of Nightmares, has a great in-depth look at how the BBC has covered Murdoch’s career under the leading headline: “Rupert Murdoch – A portrait of  Satan” .

“Rupert Murdoch doesn’t like the BBC. And sometimes the BBC doesn’t seem to like Rupert Murdoch either. Following the principle that you should know your enemy, the BBC has assiduously recorded the relentless rise of Rupert Murdoch and his assault on the old “decadent” elites of Britain.”

“And I thought it would be interesting to put up some of the high points. It is also a good way to examine how far his populist rhetoric is genuine, and how far its is a smokescreen to disguise the interests of another elite. As a balanced member of the BBC – I leave it to you to decide.”

There is a feeling that many have come out of the BSkyB affair poorly and none appear to be coming out worse than Vince Cable who was undone by the Daily Telegraph, which has Michael White reminds us below did for itself at the same time.

RT @AndrewSparrow Tom Watson on Vince Cable – he’s been transformed “from Chairman Mao to Mr has-been” -

RT @tom_watson: The most sought after man in London today is Vincent Cable. Where are they hiding him?

RT @DRoseTimes: MP @tom_watson asks what Vince Cable thinks of News Corp decision. But the Sky’s a no-fly zone for Cable after declaration of “war”.

White in the Guardian says that everyone loses and that the coalition is left damaged and looking shabby.

“Alas, in suppressing the real story – silly Vince’s boast about being “at war” with Murdoch – until it was leaked to the BBC’s Robert Peston – the Torygraph shot itself in the foot.  Like the Mail and Guardian, it opposed the BskyB bid on pluralism grounds but landed them all with Hunt, who was much more sympathetic.  So everybody loses, including Hunt. Cameron looks shabby and expedient – Tony Blair never went this far – and the Lib Dems are stuck with evidence of their own impotence.”

There is comedy too asJimi7seven‎ tweeted: “Classic Fry & Laurie ‘If Rupert Murdoch hadn’t been born.’ YouTube – A Bit of Fry&Laurie: If Rupert Murdoch hadn’t …‎ 

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