The media tycoon is one of the UK’s least trusted individuals. We cannot let him tighten his grip on our news.
Rupert Murdoch has long been considered an unelected member of the British cabinet, backing every prime minister for the last 30 years. And now he’s also buddies with Donald Trump, exchanging phone calls almost every day.
So is it even worth trying to stop him taking over yet more of the UK’s media? Yes! Especially if Labour takes a stand on it next week.
Media Secretary Karen Bradley is about to decide whether to call for a full investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s track record before allowing his £12bn Sky takeover bid to go forward.
Under pressure, she’s already delayed her decision, and we can influence how it turns out.
When Murdoch tried the same takeover 6 years ago, Jeremy Hunt was in charge.
One of the highlights of our campaign at that time was standing with a small crowd of Avaaz members outside Hunt’s constituency surgery in the Godalming Sainsbury’s and stopping him as he left to hand over a letter from our lawyers about the phone hacking scandal.
Now we’re working with the same brilliant lawyers, and have put Bradley on notice that we’ll challenge her decision if she lets Murdoch and his family off the hook.
Bradley’s decision next week will have lasting effects on our democracy.
She’s already said she’s likely to call for further investigation into whether owning Sky, on top of newspapers like the Times and the Sun, will give the Murdochs too much power.
But ultimately she has indicated that she is unlikely to take into consideration the threat the Murdochs pose to our broadcasting standards, the quality and impartiality of our news.
That’s what we, our lawyers, and plenty of MPs who’ve had mailbags full of letters from concerned constituents will be looking out for.
Murdoch is one of the UK’s least trusted individuals, according to polls we’ve run. If Jeremy Corbyn challenges Theresa May on this at PMQs next Wednesday, that could be the final factor that persuades the government to reject Murdoch’s bid for Sky.
The case is clear. Fox News is full of pro-Trump, climate denying, anti-muslim, homophobic, alarmist trash.
Fox News contributors have claimed there are “no-go zones for non-muslims” in Birmingham, suggested London build internment camps following the June terrorist attacks, said Barack Obama collaborated with GCHQ to install wiretaps on Trump, and put up fake news about a murdered Democrat Party staffer to distract attention from Trump’s Russian connections.
This isn’t something we want to see in the UK, and it’s something are laws are supposed to prevent.
Fox News appears not to care about accuracy or impartiality, and the Murdochs have said they would like to turn Sky UK into something like Fox as soon as they can. Indeed, since Fox took full control of Sky in Australia in the last year, they have turned already turned its decent evening news into divisive right-wing ranting.
How Murdoch employees gather the news, and how they themselves are treated is also a massive concern. People on his payroll have hacked thousands of people’s phones, from murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler, through to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Dozens of Fox News staff have filed allegations of sexual and racial harassment, cases that have resulted in a reported $50m in settlements so far.
Communications regulator, Ofcom, which looked at the deal earlier this year, found “significant corporate failure” at Fox News, yet let the Murdochs off the hook by declaring that their full takeover of Sky would be fine.
Nearly 70,000 Avaaz members have called for a full investigation in the public interest, and we’re planning to ramp up our campaigning this autumn.
We’ve already filed 70 pages of evidence to Ofcom and Bradley, brought a victim and lawyers from the US to testify against the Murdochs, deluged Bradley with messages, and made the first step in a legal challenge of Ofcom’s flawed assessment.
In the last few days Avaaz members in Staffordshire Moorlands – Bradley’s constituency – have again been active, flanked by a mobile ad van portraying Murdoch as Del Boy trying to con Bradley.
The van and flyers were also out and about in Whitehall as we greeted DCMS staff arriving at work.
Bold investigators, lawyers, politicians and victims – backed by people-powered campaigning – stopped Murdoch winning the biggest prize of his life in 2011. And now we can do it again.
It’s an uphill battle against a multi-billion media mogul and his army of lawyers, but we can ensure that Bradley fully investigates the Murdochs and their threat to our news and our democracy.
To get involved with Avaaz’s campaign and to stand up to Murdoch, sign the petition:
And drop a line to your MP, asking them to write to Bradley.
Alex Wilks is Campaign Director at AvaazLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.