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October 14 2010

09:58

Guardian: Murdoch’s media fightback over letter to Cable

A letter signed by numerous media organisations including the BBC and sent to business secretary Vince Cable earlier this week, calling on him to intervene with a planned bid by Murdoch for the remainder of BSkyB, has sparked quick responses from Murdoch’s other media outlets.

According to a report by the Guardian, it was first an editorial in News International’s The Times yesterday, which claimed that BBC director general Mark Thompson had made a “serious and surprising error”.

By lending his name to the campaign to prevent News Corp from purchasing those Sky shares that it does not already own, Mr Thompson has made a serious and surprising error. He has embroiled his taxpayer-funded organisation in a political and commercial battle that it should have nothing to do with.

Then today the Sun’s columnist Kelvin MacKenzie added that Murdoch should be encouraged, not stopped.

The fact that Sky is so successful is due to his three-word mantra: invest, invest, invest. When you look at the list of business duds opposing him, what’s quite clear is they have chosen to survive by three other words: Cut, cut, cut. …It’s hard to know why Vince Cable wouldn’t nod the deal through as Rupert has always run Sky thanks to his near 40% equity ownership and the right he has to pick the chief executive.

… The reality is that Sky owns very few of the channels it broadcasts and many of the stations have minute audiences – especially compared to the state monopolists at the BBC. The issue for our nation should not be how to stop Mr Murdoch investing in Britain but how to encourage him – and many more like him.”

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March 30 2010

11:53

#askthechancellors: How important was the digital audience in the UK Chancellor debate?

Last night I enjoyed lurking on the Twitter backchannel while watching Channel 4’s Ask the Chancellor debate – trivia mixed with observational insight.

I liked Evening Standard journalist Paul Waugh’s tweet about George Osborne’s ‘invisible pedal’ left-foot habit, as much as the economic 140-character analysis and Channel 4’s live poll via tweets, as the Chancellor hopefuls and incumbent fought it out (Vince Cable was the eventual winner, with 36 per cent; leaving Osborne and Darling with 32 per cent each).

Twitter also gave us an insight into the Channel 4/BBC political debate rivalry – spotted in tweets between Channel 4’s Faisal Islam and Radio 4’s Evan Davis. This, from Islam, for example:

amused by @r4today s licence-fee funded sniffiness about #askthechancellors Obviously nowt to do with this: http://bit.ly/aoc4MH

Probably worth noting this too, spotted via @the_mediablog:

RT @DominicFarrell: Those who will decide the #election were watching Coronation Street #askthechancellors

That was a sentiment supported by this morning’s TV stats: Brand Republic reports that Ask the Chancellors peaked at 2.1 million, while 9 million watched Eastenders.

So how important was this backchannel and the digital audience? That was the question Jim Naughtie posed to POLIS director Charlie Beckett on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme (audio at this link). Beckett said:

I think the real winner (…) despite some of the media cynicism, was in a sense ‘democracy’. I detected a lot of people who were quite pleased to hear a lengthy debate in detail, in public, by these people.

Beckett elaborates here, on his blog:

It all makes for much richer, multi-layered reportage. The TV debate alone would have been worth it. But the fact that tens of thousands of people were taking part reminds us that citizens do care about politics. And they want to be part of reporting the debate as it happens.

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