News Corp Troubles

I don’t know if you guys have been following the News Corp. hacking scandal (I don’t recall bringing it up much in class), but the potential implications for British TV have just gotten huge. Short version of the hacking part: one of News Corp’s tabloids, News of the World, was caught hacking into the voicemail of a missing teen (who was later found murdered). The paper was shut down, some folks got fired, but News Corp. brass has claimed they didn’t know about it. It has since come out that the hacking went beyond just that one incident and newspaper, and while Rupert Murdoch and the other top execs are still claiming ignorance, the water has gotten even hotter for them, because this has led to even bigger charges of illegal influence. Again in short: it’s come out that News Corp. might have had illicit dealings with the government in trying to curry favor to get permission to buy up all of BSkyB, which runs Sky satellite service, last year (once the hacking came to light, the plan was shut down, so News Corp still has just 39% ownership). And going way further back than that, there are charges that Margaret Thatcher granted News Corp. all kinds of special dispensation to get Sky going and help it take on (or even down) the BBC. And finally, there are even some rumblings that some in the government may have pushed to freeze the BBC license fee in order to favor Sky. (As Twenty Twelve‘s Siobhan Sharp would say, “holy shet, guys”). Here’s a post from my blog that catches you up on some of this. And then here’s an evisceration of News Corp. from the Guardian (should be noted: known as a liberal-leaning outlet) that raises some of the past and future implications for the BBC. And there’s talk this could ultimately force News Corp. entirely out of BSkyB (another source alert: from BBC News). This could be a lot of noise producing nothing, as frankly the hacking scandal itself has kind of been, but it could also change the face of British TV. We’ll see!

About Christine

Christine Becker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.
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