Liberation after occupation?

It’s been hard to find time to blog in the past few days, with momentous event after momentous event, and our pretty intensive reporting on Twitter.  Besides, who are we to compete with the eloquent and penetrating words of the many great journalists who are writing with such passion about an earthquake in their own industry?

A couple of sentences by Steve Richards in The Independent put his finger on the wider political significance of the last few days.  “If there is an election tomorrow,” he asked, which party leader would want the endorsement of Rebekah Brooks?  A week ago they would have died for it.”

There’s a long, long way to go and there are many more dragons to slay,  but the opportunity at last exists for a real challenge to the concentration of media ownership in Britain.  The shadow cabinet now have the confidence to say they want this –  officially, we assume, judging by comments from Harriet Harman.  And we hope the debate will include the type of ownership that best fits a democracy.  The present corporate model is flawed in many ways and there are alternatives to pursue. The task ahead is to ensure that these issues play a central part in the forthcoming inquiries and debates.

As for BSkyB, the prospects of a Murdoch takeover have dived in the past few days.  Jeremy Hunt has delayed his decision until the autumn, Ofcom may do the “fit and proper” test, Labour are opposing it, other legal and financial implications are getting in the way …. There’s even the possibility that the Murdochs will be forced to surrender their existing share of BSkyB.  (Who would have even dared think that a week ago?)  We therefore have every reason to be optimistic about the eventual outcome if we keep up the pressure and keep our eye on the ball.

On a personal note … Tucked away at the back of a shelf at home we have a tankard style mug that’s been in our family for many years.  I thought today would be an appropriate time to give it pride of place.  The inscription says:

The Times Challenger

Published by the UNIONS at THE TIMES & SUNDAY TIMES, to state the workers’ case and to strike a blow for PRESS FREEDOM

Commemorating an historic struggle and victory for workers’ rights and Press Freedom.

This great struggle will long be remembered with pride.

This struggle took place in 1978-79 and closed the papers down.  In 1981 Lord Thomson sold them to Rupert Murdoch, who later moved them to his new site in Wapping, scene of a long and bitter dispute, with the dismissal of thousands of employees.  I wasn’t at Wapping but it lives on in the memory of everyone who feared the consequences of the continuing influence of Rupert Murdoch.  Whatever excesses the unions were accused of, whatever modernisation may have been desirable, it was apparent then that Murdoch was a rutheless operator who would stop at nothing in the pursuit of his expanding empire.  It’s a bit like remembering when your country was occupied.


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