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James Murdoch's resignation is the result of News Corp's increasing shift to the right - not just on climate

2 23 5
02.08.2020
In happier times: Lachlan, Rupert and James Murdoch at Rupert's marriage to Jerry Hall in 2016.

James Murdoch is not the most obvious candidate for editorial heroism. His route to resigning from the News Corp board because of “disagreements over certain editorial content” has been circuitous and colourful.

James’s first major managerial role in his father’s media empire was to run the Star satellite services and News Corp’s Asian operations in Hong Kong from 2000 to 2003. He had mixed commercial success in this period, which is best remembered for his determination to gain access to the Chinese market by currying favour with the government.

He accused Western media of painting a falsely negative portrayal of China through their focus on controversial issues such as human rights and Taiwan. In 2001, he advised Hong Kong’s democracy movement to “accept the reality of life under a strong-willed absolutist government”. In one of his dealings with China, he agreed that Murdoch’s cable channels around the world would take China’s propaganda channel CCTV9.

Read more: China proves immune to Murdoch-style regime change

In 2003, he was promoted to run BSkyB in London, where he lived for the best part of the next decade, and where he successfully expanded Murdoch’s satellite services.

He gained early notoriety with a confrontational speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Here he celebrated the digital age and the dynamism of the market, and equated people who still believed in regulation with “creationists”. There was no doubt about his primary target:

To let the state enjoy a near monopoly of information is to guarantee manipulation and distortion.

Yet we have a system in which state-sponsored media – the BBC in particular – grow ever more dominant. That process has to be reversed.

It takes a particularly agile propagandist to find the Beijing regime so benign and the BBC so sinister.

James’s main aim at the time was to effect a total takeover of BSkyB, raising News Corp’s current share of 40% to 100%. The importance of BSkyB to the Murdoch empire was........

© The Conversation


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