Sunday, 4 March 2007

Power corrupts .........

Below are two unremarkable extracts from two unremarkable articles in today's Observer - Business and Media section. BUT these should be REMARKABLE paragraphs because they say so much about how the more powerful echelons of our society work; how power is abused and how this abuse is not even worthy of comment.

The first extract comes from an article describing the spat between Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and Richard Branson's Virgin Media (

"Last week, Branson's anti-Murdoch campaign yielded fruit when Ofcom said it would investigate whether BSkyB's move into ITV was in the public interest. It may even look into Murdoch's grip on media in Britain as a whole, but don't bet on a clampdown. .......

........ It was competition that Branson was offering when he made his move on ITV last year - serious competition that persuaded Murdoch to buy a blocking share stake. Branson is a worry to Murdoch, no doubt about it.

But it's doubtful Ofcom will rule that BSkyB acted outside the letter of the law, as this is a grey area. Moreover, Ofcom's chief, Ed Richards, whose appointment was approved by ministers, is a former adviser to Gordon Brown and has been closely linked to the Blair government - a government that needs Murdoch and his newspapers onside if it is to defeat David Cameron."

This extract describes how Murdoch's influence is such that the government is unlikely to act against him because his support is needed in upcoming elections or rather the government fears Murdoch turning against them.

Proper competition is not allowed because our government fears Murdoch's power to prevent their continuing in office. To try to keep Murdoch onside our "leaders" allow him to maintain an uncompetitive position in UK media. Staying in power is more important than dealing with Murdoch's monopolistic position in UK media.

The writer (Richard Wachman) makes no comment on this aspect. He describes it but leaves it untouched.

Another point left as unremarkable is the fact that the chief of Ofcom, a body which should be looking after the public interest, is close to the government. The unwritten implication is that he knows the result the government wants.

Again Wachman makes no comment.

The second extract is from an interview with John Major - former Prime Minister - ( in which he says: “But I'm bound to say I sat back when I saw what they (the Labour government) began to do in 1997 and asked myself why the press accepted it. If you were favoured you got stories; if not you were frozen out and, because [Labour] had a big majority, the press accepted what was going on. I was deeply disappointed in that.

Here Major describes the situation in which the Blair government abuses its monopolistic position of government news to control how stories are portrayed in the media. Those who do not fall in line are frozen out. Of course the media are no stronger in this situation than were the government with Murdoch.

In both examples abuse of power (or fear of abuse) in a monopolistic situation allows those with power to manipulate the decisions. If this is not corruption then it is very close to being so and should be highlighted. The Observer did not see fit to comment on either example. How ingrained, how embedded is this abuse that the media hardly see it let alone comment upon it.

What a sad, sad society!

Power corrupts ……….

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