Independent Manchester United Supporters Association

IMUSA Campaigns

 

IMUSA Home Page
About the Organisation
Latest IMUSA News
Details of IMUSA Meetings
IMUSA Campaigns: Past and Current
Online Discussion Forum
How to Join IMUSA

Contact IMUSA
Links to Other Relevant Sites

 

The October's Labour Left Briefing has published a piece from Jeremy Corbyn MP (below) attacking the Sky take-over

There was a time when Labour stood for public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The new Clause IV put paid to that. Now New Labour craves business approval for whatever new policy turn is proposed. This is nowhere more true than in government relations with media tycoons.

Many in the Party were rightly suspicious when Tony Blair was the guest speaker at Rupert Murdoch's world executives' conference in Australia in 1996. The spin was that it was leadership being clever - as if this were a justification. the Sun supported New Labour but as ever, being even cleverer, the Times didn't. Since May 1997, when not involved with a hugely expensive and tasteless circulation war with The Mirror, the Murdoch papers have been supportive of the more right wing moves of the Government, but drawn a line over the Euro. The trip by Gordon Brown to the executives' world gathering in the US this year is seen as a confirmation of the relationship between Government and Murdoch who has sought and gained the same kind of relationship in Australia, South Asia and China. This is a corporation whose ambitions are boundless and quickly gobbles up the entire political establishment wherever it wishes to go. Compared to Murdoch, William Randolph Hearst and "Citizen Kane" were men of modest ambition.

The Murdoch empire has grown from its Australian base to cover huge areas of South Asia, North America and Europe. The pattern has been a familiar one. To Murdoch, sport is the battering ram of widening influence and market share, and together with political influence and the creation of satellite channels, the media regime is thus fixed. No government has ever really stood up to Murdoch or sought to encourage either quality newspapers or television. He gets television rights for popular sports, then forces people into buying subscriptions. He then forces a bidding war - with publicly owned television being either unable to pay enough or having to make huge cuts elsewhere to compete.

The plan by Sky TV to buy Manchester United, and with it a huge access to TV and golden chips in the Euro sports TV stakes, gives Murdoch control of the product (football), the marketing and distribution systems. This is a monopoly if ever there was one and it has to be stopped. There was a time when the Party was firmly of the view that Murdoch was an over-powerful, anti-union press baron who had to be stopped. Some of us have never forgotten the brutal sacking of 5,000 print workers at Wapping. That defeat lost thousands of print and media jobs, and created a regime of unstable short-term employment for those who remain. Murdoch's influence has been a malevolent one with job losses and anti-union activity being the norm, and the production of appalling "popular" newspapers and tabloid television. Now Rupert has bought his way into millions of homes as he takes squillions of dollars out of them. Concern for newspaper quality led to a policy of ending cross ownership of different outlets. If implemented, Murdoch would have been forced to settle for some titles and no television or vice versa. Hardly revolutionary stuff but at least a recognition of the need for diversity in the media. All of this was dropped ahead of the election and after Blair's long weekend in Australia, and since the election there has been no real pressure on the empire at all. There seemed to be a clear attempt to drive the Independent out of existence by underpricing the Times and even this was not challenged.

This time a new area has been entered with football clubs (created with working class supporters' money) being the target. The supporters will pay the price in tickets, shirts and Sky subscriptions. Football supporters will find that in the long term there will be a dumbing down of all media to the level of Rupert - and you don't get much lower. The decisions that will have to be taken by Peter Mandelson will have enormous consequences. To cave in to Murdoch will be seen as payback time and will increase the monopoly power of News International. The question of sport will not matter.

 


1995-2003 IMUSA