Josh from Free Press sez, " FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to gut existing rules that limit media consolidation. This is bad news for people who care about the effects of too much media in too few hands. Genachowski's proposed plan would make our media less diverse, create local media monopolies and ultimately mean less news. This rule would allow ONE company to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. And that one company could be your Internet provider, too. Scary."
New FCC rules will let a single company own a town's ISP, newspapers, 2 TV stations and 8 radio stations
Britain's free press cringes in anticipation of coming regulation; plutocrats and oligarchs celebrate
Writing in The Spectator, Kirsty Walker describes the chilling effect the UK's Leveson Inquiry (which is investigating illegal phone/email interception and systematic harassment by UK papers, especially tabloids) is having on legitimate reporting. The UK is already the best place in the world for rich and powerful people who want to use libel law to silence unflattering accounts of their actions. But with Leveson heading for its conclusion and the spectre of official press regulation (through which the government would license reporters and news outlets, and could remove those licenses at will), reporters and their editors are under increasing pressure from the world's dictators and local plutocrats.
Before the Leveson inquiry, I had received less than a dozen PCC complaints in my career and never had one upheld. But when I left, complaints were coming in at a rate of at least one a month. All required mini-investigations. Even foreign dictatorships know how to frighten Fleet Street. The last complaint I was asked to deal with was from a dictator, the King of Bahrain, who didn’t like the way I referred to criticism of his regime following the deaths of 40 people in anti-government protests.
Like 99.99 per cent of British journalists, I never hacked a phone or bribed a public official. During my long career in the House of Commons, I tried my utmost to be fair. If a story didn’t quite stack up, I would abandon it. A small handful of journalists did hire private investigators to do some horrific things, but there are laws in this country to deal with them.
How do we know that Lord Leveson’s report will encourage the rich, the powerful, the venal and the pompous to intimidate journalists and frighten papers into not covering stories? Because the prospect of it has done so already. How do we know that an elite will attempt to decide what it is appropriate for the rest of us to read about over our cornflakes? Because Leveson is already doing exactly that. This is the judge who read a 200-word article in the Times about how The Thick of It was planning to satirise him in one episode — and promptly asked the editor of that paper whether it was ‘appropriate’ for him to run the piece. It is all too easy to guess what a judge with such an attitude to newspapers will do for press freedom.
What the papers won’t say (Thanks, Marilyn!)
A former Australian senator has accused News Corp -- Rupert Murdoch's media empire -- of offering to give him favorable coverage in exchange for his vote in against media legislation that would curtail the company's profits and influence. Former senator Bill O'Chee submitted a nine-page statement detailing his allegations to Australian police, who are investigating the claims.
O'Chee, a former senator for the state of Queensland with a track record of voting against his National party's wishes, alleged the executive told him that while voting against the digital TV legislation would be criticised, "we will take care of you".
The executive "also told me we would have a 'special relationship', where I would have editorial support from News Corp's newspapers, not only with respect to the … legislation but for 'any other issues' too," O'Chee reportedly told police in his statement.
"I believed that (he) was clearly implying that News Corp would run news stories or editorial content concerning any issue I wanted if I was to cross the floor and oppose the …legislation."
James Murdoch, "the first Mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise"
James Murdoch has been hauled back before Britain's Parliament to answer questions about what he knew and to what extent he is culpable in the News of the World/phone hacking scandal. In the BBC clip linked below, MP Tom Watson asks Murdoch if he knows what "omerta" means (Murdoch demurs). Then Murdoch embarks on a "mistakes were made" (well, "it is regrettable that things went wrong") statement that culminates with Watson asking Murdoch if he felt a comparison between News UK and the Mafia was apt. Murdoch disagrees. Watson finishes by noting that Murdoch must be "the first Mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise." To which Murdoch replies, "Mr Watson, please."
It's quite a moment.
Following up on the contentious NewsCorp shareholder meeting where the independent shareholders were to express their displeasure with the crimes committed on the Murdoch family's watch: the majority of the independent shareholders voted against continuing James and Lachlan Murdoch (Rupert's sons) continuing employment as senior execs in the company. Due to NewsCorp's odd structure the Murdochs get to overrule their shareholders, but if the upcoming shareholder meeting for BSkyB goes the same way, it will see some serious Murdoch tail-kickage.
Michael Wolff, Murdoch biographer and author of The Man Who Owns the News, said it was now inevitable that James Murdoch would leave.
"James will probably go by himself, that's what everybody will be waiting for. I wonder too if Lachlan will step off the board. But could this drag on for another year? Yes."
Wolff said the size of the vote against Murdoch's son had created "a very difficult family moment..."
Tanner said the votes against the Murdoch sons and Bancroft showed shareholders were serious about wanting more independence at News Corp. "The overwhelming influence of the Murdoch family is not acceptable anymore," she said.
Tom Watson to attend NewsCorp board meetings with "details of previously undisclosed surveillance methods"
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who's tirelessly hounded Murdoch's News of the World over its illegal spying, has flown to the USA to attend the NewsCorp's shareholder meeting (he's got the AFL-CIO's proxy) to reveal that NewsCorp's sins go much deeper than the odd bit of mass-scale crude voicemail hacking. This is a pretty plausible allegation -- the idea that a firm as ruthless and moneyed as NewsCorp would stoop to voicemail hacking but stop there is pretty implausible. I assume that the leaker(s) who are releasing the intelligence about NewsCorp's misdeeds are timing their revelations to ensure that Rupert and his progeny twist and writhe as much as possible, coming up with new, more dire revelations every time the Murdochs appear to have settled things -- ideally these revelations should also reveal the previous round of spin as a pack of half-truths, twisted truths and outright lies. And ideally, each fresh revelation will inspire more leakers to come foreward.
NewsCorp has an odd corporate structure that gives control over the company to the Murdochs, even though they don't own the majority of shares. As activist shareholders begin to mobilize, the possibility of the Murdochs being chucked out of NewsCorp becomes more and more real.
Watson has flown to Los Angeles to attend the shareholders meeting, which he will gain access to having been given a proxy vote by the US trade union umbrella group, the AFL-CIO. News Corporation is bracing itself for independent shareholders to vote in considerable numbers at the meeting against the reappointment of Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
The scale of the protest outside the Murdoch family is expected to be substantially over 20% of independent shareholders, with several expected to raise questions at the meeting at Fox studios. But their protest will not be enough to topple the family, because Rupert Murdoch controls 40% of the voting shares.
Nevertheless, before the meeting there were clear signs of tension at the upper levels of News Corp, with particular emphasis on security at the event and worries about what sort of tone the 80-year-old media mogul will strike in front of those who, alongside him, have a stake in the empire he built.
Murdoch's opening address is expected to show less of the contrition than in London in July, when he told MPs: "This the most humble day of my life." Instead he is expected to strike a more combative tone, although there are worries that this will alienate some investors and outsiders.