As if he’d know

Rupert Murdoch to the FTC:

Technology makes it cheap and easy to distribute news for anyone with Internet access, but producing journalism is expensive.

True. Phones don’t just illegally tap themselves, and making police investigations magically disappear is also an expensive business…

However, his implied public service argument falls down on an obvious point: none of the expensive reporting the soon-to-be-paywalled News of the World does is of any benefit whatsoever to anyone. So a footballer’s dad is willing to buy some Bolivian marching powder, or a vicar shagged a tart; see my rock of indifference the size of the Ritz.

On the other hand, the reporting that the non-paywalled New York Times did into the NotW’s crooked ways, and super-dodgy relationship with the Metropolitan Police, is well worth anyone’s money. Funny the way that tends to work…

21 thoughts on “As if he’d know”

  1. I'm no fan of Rupert (I refuse to ever buy the Times since he bought it, and also refuse to get Sky, despite my cricket fetish, because he owns it) but as a cricket fan, I have to say the NOTW has done more to expose the betting scandals in cricket in the last week or so than the ICC has done in 10 years. That at least is a reasonable public service in my view.

  2. This is a fair point. I don't really give a monkey's about cricket, any more than I would for any other form of entertainment that I don't find enjoyable, but I suppose one has to grudgingly admit that one. Seriously though, did you guys (ie cricket fans) not already realise that it was going on, and basically tolerate it? I mean, it occurred in soccer despite the fact that there are far fewer opportunities to cheat (ie only a couple of goals per side per game, rather than a million possible outcomes), and that nearly everyone cares about soccer so everyone's eyes are on every EPL and Championship match…

  3. State detection vans armed with terrifying death rays cruise the streets nightly to ensure the state broadcaster gets its taxes. With such a fat toad squatting like a over our imaginative space the option to pay, or not, at nice Mr Murdoch`s shop seems relatively benign .

    Pricing Is Spiritual Good
    The puritanical snipes you aim at the ephemera of for-profit media reminds me a little of the arguments people used to make to defend the BBC …” We have Play for today ,and they get Gilligans Island” , that sort of thing ?
    They aint saying it any more , you may feel I`m hugely off topic here but I notice that pricing mechanisms drive up quality not only of products but also of creativity ,civilisation and the very soul of man .Paying engages the critical faculties , organises anarchy into order , and that is a good thing .

  4. HBO produces the only good US TV. Everything else is still utter dreck that the world would be better off without. Meanwhile, the UK commercial TV sector is an excellent example of how you're wrong: as competition has intensified, the response of ITV has been to stop making anything that could be considered 'good' and instead pump out worthless shite.

  5. Actually, you're not entirely wrong – the common trait that the BBC and HBO have is that they're *paid for*, rather than subsidised by a general tax on buying goods and services like ITV and the US networks.

  6. Fair point. Newmania seems to be under the impression that ITV produces programmes which are paid for by viewers, in the same way as, say, Birdseye produces fish fingers which are paid for by shoppers.
    This is completely wrong. ITV produces viewers which are paid for by advertisers – its relationship to its viewers is not that of Birdseye to the shopper, but that of Birdseye to the codfish. The product is that what ITV – freeview commercial broadcasters more generally – describe in their ad sales meetings with potential advertisers: the number of viewers, their social, economic and demographic information, and the cost for a thirty-second slot. I'm sure that this product is extremely high-quality and well-presented.

    On the other side you have HBO and the BBC and the various premium sports and film channels.

  7. Ha ! Worthless shite we are subsequently taxed to increase supply of .The State Broadcaster has aped reality TV, shitty talent shows and phone voting all of which , I take it you feel are dreadful proley circus eeeooo ! Why ? To snuff it out and retain the legitimacy of the taxation.
    That is why we have no HBO ?Thats why we get a little old ladies armpit sized dismal parochial fare ,pay taxes to import American products ,stare blandly at state celebrity dancing competitions and nod along to state pop music radio .Its
    Radio 1 is typical , it was copied /stolen from Radio Caroline to snuff out incipient competition , the case for 24 hour news was denied until Sky did it ( then copied) .

    Reithian it is not John . I am not at all sure , by the way , that in your enthusiasm to squash my ( obviously right ) argument you have forgotten that Premium Pay Channels are the opposite of free content which rather knocks your whole case into a cocked hat . As for the supposed cost of advertising , well true it is an additional cost . Being Able to do without it may well account for the glorious victory of Soviet planned economy over the lip smackin` thirst quenchin’ argument of history winnin’ West.Hoo ha !!

  8. Newmania, just out of curiosity, do you ever reread your comments after you've written them and think "Now, before I hit 'submit', I should ask myself: does this read as though it was written by a completely crazy person?"

    I think it might be worth your trying it once or twice.

  9. OK I
    1 The BBC has parroted every dumb idea ITV has had without even showing the wit to think of any new formats themselves.
    2 They are obliged to do this to retain the legitimacy of a universal ( and regressive ) tax on televisions which , at this point has no necessary connection to the BBC .
    3 This need to fill every available space has killed of creativity which is why we have no HBO and produce awful soul sickening parochial drama
    4 This why we endure the idiotic situation whereby the state feels it has ensure a supply of pop music and celebrity dancing competitions .
    5 The State has never created only digested .Radio 1 was invented in response to Radio Caroline , same with 24 hour news , breakfast TV and on and on it goes. Only for profit broadcasting has driven change the BBC only grows .
    .6 This is far from the Reithian mission I have some affection for and Premium Pay channels show exactly why JB`s wish for free content is an error
    7 -Finally with an attempt at levity I meant to point out that John`s dislike of advertising as a supposed cost is an old Marxist point and an argument for a planned Economy. In other words it is wrong headed

    My solution is a smaller BBC paid out of direct taxation providing only what the market will not , or will not provide as well I would place it within the context of Arts and culture

  10. OK I`ll translate into pompous dull arsish if you like Ajay
    1 The BBC has parroted every dumb idea ITV has had without even showing the wit to think of any new formats themselves.
    2 They are obliged to do this to retain the legitimacy of a universal ( and regressive ) tax on televisions which , at this point has no necessary connection to the BBC .
    3 This need to fill every available space has killed of creativity which is why we have no HBO and produce awful soul sickening parochial drama
    4 This why we endure the idiotic situation whereby the state feels it has ensure a supply of pop music and celebrity dancing competitions .
    5 The State has never created only digested .Radio 1 was invented in response to Radio Caroline , same with 24 hour news , breakfast TV and on and on it goes. Only for profit broadcasting has driven change the BBC only grows .
    .6 This is far from the Reithian mission I have some affection for and Premium Pay channels show exactly why JB`s wish for free content is an error
    7 -Finally with an attempt at levity I meant to point out that John`s dislike of advertising as a supposed cost is an old Marxist point and an argument for a planned Economy. In other words it is wrong headed

    My solution is a smaller BBC paid out of direct taxation providing only what the market will not , or will not provide as well I would place it within the context of Arts and culture

  11. "The BBC has parroted every dumb idea ITV has had without even showing the wit to think of any new formats themselves"

    Oh, yes, truefact#1. That'd be why the BBC never sell any programme formats overseas…

  12. Even if that were true, it wouldn't demonstrate that the BBC was worse than ITV, merely less imaginative.

    It's not true, of course. The BBC owns the documentary series format. The BBC produced "Civilisation" back in the 60s, and ITV wasn't doing anything of the kind. ITV followed suit, and did it rather well, with "The World At War". It's still producing documentary series that are well ahead of anything the commercial broadcasters do – and sell overseas accordingly.

    Nor does "the BBC has more space to fill, and this has killed creativity" make any sense at all. Er, what? Wouldn't more space mean more room for experiment? You think the BBC was more creative in the days of a single TV channel?

    And I'm fascinated by the argument that BBC drama and pop music are sickeningly parochial and awful, but the sort of laudable innovation produced by the wonderful commercial sector is… breakfast TV!

  13. Also, in the abscence of the Beeb, thick right-wingers would have one fewer organisation to point at and shout "Look! Over there! Communists!" whenever their Dear Uncle Rupert drops a bollock.

  14. Personally I've always felt that the David Attenborough wildlife documentaries on their own justify the licence fee down through the years.

    Quite aside from that, though, it's always struck me as a good idea for a nation to have at least one media outlet that isn't tied to the vagaries of commercial fashion and fickle market forces (though, of course, not being a big fan of free markets, that's as much ideological as pragmatic on my part… still, the same can be said for many of the arguments on the other side). What's disappointing though, is that the BBC have felt compelled to chase the same lowest-common-demoninator audience as the commercial channels.

    That's not an argument against the existence of the beeb, however, but an argument against many of its current tendencies. Douglas Adams summed it up best when he described the BBC as an essentially schizophrenic organisation. Because it bizarrely finds itself in a position where it's perceived competitors are actually in an entirely different business to it. The business of the beeb is to provide content to an audience, while the business of a commercial channel is to provide audiences to an advertiser.

    I find the former can be a worthwhile activity (when done properly) while the latter is rather distasteful to this anti-capitalist. But that's just me. The free-marketeers will doubtlessly get their way with the BBC, as they do with most things. Not because they are right in some moral sense, but because we have created a culture where the public at large is encouraged to act like a junkie or hedonist, dedicated to desire-driven consumption above all things. Certainly above such abstractions as quality or human decency.

    One day soon all television will be a ghastly stream of Come Dine With Big Brother… a medium bereft of whatever value it once had or had the potential to have, dedicated to mocking humanity and belittling us all. And the free marketeers will sit back with a contented sigh, safe in the knowledge that they may stare at the screen in their living room without ever running the risk of encountering anything remotely thought-provoking.

  15. Jim how would you feel about a smaller BBC paid for out of direct taxation ( which poor pensioners might appreciate)providing a public service and no longer obliged to beat Sky and bankrupt ITV. No-one suggests the Beeb do nothing good but much of it would be commercially viable ( being good)and does not require a subsidy.
    News, childrens programming and culturally important or elevating material would be a tiny fraction of the current behemoth.
    If you do not like Come Dine With Makeover Celebrity Reality Challenge why on earth do you want to impose a regressive tax to ensure we get even more of it?
    I suspect it is the State Plannners that are in fact the doctrinally twitchy ones here and the alleged bias of the state funded BBC towards the state would not be an issue if it did not obliterate the rest of the media.

  16. 7 -Finally with an attempt at levity I meant to point out that John`s dislike of advertising as a supposed cost is an old Marxist point and an argument for a planned Economy. In other words it is wrong headed

    So your argument is that some people who argue this were wrong on other issues, therefore you must be wrong on this one. That's like saying "DOCTORS? You know who had DOCTORS – HITLER. THAT'S WHO!".

    Ah. I see. Like you did on the other thread.

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