THE CPBF is launching a £20,000 crowdfunding appeal to step up the battle to stop the Murdochs buying up Sky TV. It is a fight that can now be won, as their empire starts to shake.
Rupert and son James Murdoch have banked for years on the super-lucrative Sky channels in Europe to lift 21st Century Fox to the premier-league level of the US media megacorps.
But after shock corporate moves in November Fox looks more like a seller than a buyer. The vultures are circling over the group, which has been maimed by the delays in the Sky takeover and the increasingly negative prospects for its success.
There is a real chance that these purveyors of so much hatred and lies, and political influence and corruption, over so many years, can be stopped in their tracks.
First it was revealed that film and TV giant Disney had held talks to buy Fox’s film and TV operations, including its present 39 per cent stake in Sky. Then it was confirmed that three other communications monsters – Comcast, America’s largest cable operator, Verizon, the internet provider group, and Sony, owner of Columbia and CBS – were also in the hunt.
At the same time, the telecoms giant AT&T has agreed terms to take over the top media company Time Warner, which Fox tried unsuccessfully to buy last year. It is expected that the deal, which would put CNN, Warner Brothers and HBO movies in the hands of the world’s biggest telecoms group, is expected to be blocked by US regulators.
In this contest of corporate might the Murdochs are looking vulnerable and the outcome of the Sky bid is crucial.
The bid is currently under examination by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will not report until March and the delay, which has already cost Fox £171 million in compensation to Sky shareholders, is seriously damaging.
If the takeover is not finalised by next August, then the deal is off altogether, with Fox paying out another £200 million.
It is the strength of the opposition campaign that has been able to drag out the regulatory process. The key turning point was when, under pressure, Tory culture secretary Karen Bradley – to the amazement of some, but not the CPBF – asked the CMA to go into the question of the Murdoch’s likely commitment to UK broadcasting standards.
The media regulator Ofcom had proposed an inquiry only on the question of media plurality. The CPBF was among the campaigners pressing for the wider inquiry, which opens up all the questions about the “Foxification” of news and the “corporate governance” of the group.
This covers the scandals of phone hacking and corruption on the Murdoch papers in London and serial sexual harassment at Fox in the US.
At a meeting of “civil society” groups with the CMA in October the CPBF led the presentations on the broadcast standards questions.
The £20,000 to be raised by the crowdfunding appeal will pay for further campaign materials but be largely devoted to paying a campaign worker to do the job. A new Stop Murdoch! video has been made to boost the appeal.
This article originally appeared in the CPBF’s journal Free Press No 213 Winter 2017/18