Tony Abbott’s debt to Rupert Murdoch. John Menadue

 

Media Watch of 9 September gave us a snap shot of what Rupert Murdoch did for Tony Abbott. It said “the final tally of (the Daily Telegraph’s) coverage in the election campaign stacks up like this.Out of a total of 293 political stories we scored only six as pro Labor. While 43 were pro coalition. On the negative side there were just five articles that we judged to be anti coalition.While a remarkable 134 were anti Labor” That summary takes no account of the front page splashes that ridiculed Labor day after day. or the coverage by Murdoch’s other papers outside Sydney.

It would be naïve to think that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t expect a lot in return for his bullying of the electorate in support of Tony Abbott. Rupert Murdoch will want a lot more than he asked for from Gough Whitlam after the 1972 election – an appointment as Australian High Commissioner to the UK.  I was the intermediary but Murdoch denies asking!!

Not content with ownership of over 70% of metropolitan readership in Australia, he will expect much more from Tony Abbott and not just running to the telephone whenever he calls.

Crikey and others have highlighted Murdoch’s likely calls .

  • Control of Foxtel. News Ltd now owns 50% of Foxtel and wants the other 50% owned by Telstra. Watch this play out.
  • News Ltd regards the ABC as a privileged competitor and a real pain in the neck. It doesn’t like public broadcasters and has made this clear in both the UK and Australia. News Ltd could pursue its campaign against the ABC by urging funding cuts to the ABC in the name of reducing unfair competition and providing value for money for the Australian taxpayer. This is despite the fact that the ABC happens to be the second most trusted institution in Australia, just behind the High Court, whilst the News Ltd outlets are the least trusted media in the country. This is not to say that the Canberra TV and Radio Bureau of the ABC are serving us well but that is another question.
  • Open up tendering to enable Sky News to compete with the ABC for the International Television Service.
  • New anti-syphoning laws to protect Foxtel and limit major sporting groups broadcasting their own content.
  • Reduction in television licensing fees for free-to-air TV companies to help Lachlan Murdoch’s bumbling Channel 10.
  • Federal government recruitment advertising to be shifted from online to print media to help assist The Australian.

After John Major’s surprising victory in the 1992 UK general election, the London Sun boasted ‘It ‘s the Sun wot won it’.

This time the Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, Herald Sun, Adelaide Advertiser and The Australian won’t be as garrulous. But together with Rupert Murdoch they will expect from Tony Abbott big time.

And what about the journalist code of conduct that hopefully Murdoch’s  employees signed on to..There is a deathly silence from them.

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John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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