The Murdoch media game-changer – The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Ray Martin was only half joking during last night’s savage 60 Minutes assault on News Corp when he described Britain as a “Murdocracy”.
When it comes to Murdoch media domination, Australia is even worse – the worst in the world, in fact.
A long line of Australian politicians have had unhealthy relationships with the Murdoch and Packer families through the decades.
The connections, deals, endorsements, donations and cross-fertilisation should now be retrospectively examined. For instance, why shouldn’t former federal communications minister Graham Richardson be called to appear before a parliamentary inquiry to discuss the millions of dollars he was paid by the Packer family to lobby and comment after leaving parliament?
Similarly, Rupert Murdoch’s replacement for the now-arrested Rebekah Brooks as CEO of News International is Tom Mockridge, who went straight from Paul Keating’s office to News Ltd in 1991.
It was Keating’s 1986 media ownership changes which cleared the way for News Corp to develop its ridiculous 70 per cent Australian newspaper market share courtesy of its 1987 takeover of the Herald and Weekly Times.
The Murdoch press backed Keating at key moments in his subsequent war of attrition against Bob Hawke, yet Keating has never given a full account of his dealings with Murdoch, let alone admitted the HWT takeover was a disaster for Australia’s democracy.
On Lateline last Thursday, the best Keating could do was call for tougher privacy laws and confirm the blindingly obvious that News Ltd was currently “at war with the Gillard Government”.
In fact, Keating defended the 1987 HWT takeover on the basis that his cross-media ownership laws forced Murdoch to sell his interests in Channel Ten in Melbourne and Sydney.