Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Are the Murdochs fit and proper people?

The Financial Times of London has argued that the Murdoch controlled Fox’s second bid for The UK's Sky television deserves proper scrutiny. In an editorial the FT argues that while with most products, at most times, market competition does an excellent job supplying consumers’ appetites, in a democracy, information is not just any product.
The market may give consumers the information they want, but there is little economic reason to think it will supply citizens the information they need. A wide variety of information and opinion must be available. It is a key job of democratic institutions to ensure that this happens. This is why media mergers are exposed to intense scrutiny.
The editorial concludes:
When it comes to the fit and proper test, the allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News, following as they do the phone hacking scandal at the newspaper arm of the Murdoch empire, raise serious questions. In both cases, failings of corporate culture were endemic, with senior executives aware of amoral behaviour for years. And in both cases there have been criminal investigations and settlements with victims running into millions. The Murdochs plainly failed to exercise responsible and public-minded ownership at two of their media properties. Yes, changes were eventually made in both cases — executives and talent were sacked, rules changed — when the public outcry and commercial pressure became overwhelming. The burden of proof, however, remains on the Murdochs to demonstrate that they would be a fit and proper owner of Sky. 
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