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    Newspapers, money and influence


    by Sunny on 11th October, 2007 at 3:28 am    

    Two thirds of all French newspapers and magazines are owned by Dassault and Lagardère, France’s leading arms’ manufacturers. Lagardère’s affiliate, Hachette, also owns the majority of French publishing houses, as well as controlling a large part of the book and magazine distribution network…

    “In most countries conglomeration has happened because it increases profits… But French newspapers have been barely profitable. The main reason to buy them is to exert influence, as Serge Dassault frankly admitted when he bought Le Figaro, wanting a paper to express his own views.

    via Roy Greenslade. In the UK, similarly, most newspapers lose money hand over fist. So why would anyone want to own them? For influence maybe? And if the BBC is then abolished so the market can decide, how will that strengthen our democracy?

    The case for keeping an independent BBC, one that is admittedly imperfect and frequently espouses an establishment consensus, is about keeping our democracy vibrant and strong rather than surrendering it to those with the most amount of money.



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    23 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. The BBC versus Rupert Murdoch « Amused Cynicism — on 11th October, 2007 at 7:06 am  

      […] by cabalamat on October 11th, 2007 Sunny Hundal makes an important point about media ownership: French newspapers have been barely profitable. The main reason to buy them is to exert influence, […]

    2. Leon — on 11th October, 2007 at 7:12 am  

      Well said!

    3. Rumbold — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:56 am  

      People do not have to buy particular newspapers. Even if somebody rich subsidies them, f nobody wants to read the newspaper then the newspaper will have little influence. The BBC is actually the best example of an anti-democratic media organisation, because it gets funding whether or not people actually want to pay for it.

    4. soru — on 11th October, 2007 at 12:38 pm  

      ‘ if nobody wants to read the newspaper then the newspaper will have little influence’

      And if everyone produced according to their abilities, everyones needs would be met. And if my auntie had different genitalia, she would be my uncle.

      Why the refusal to deal with the world as it actually is, why the preference for theoretical ideology over pragmatic reality?

    5. ChrisC — on 11th October, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

      “Why the refusal to deal with the world as it actually is, why the preference for theoretical ideology over pragmatic reality?”

      Pot calling kettle!

      Why do you assume that your fellow citizens - unlike you, of course - are incapable of independent thought?

      Does (I’m guessing here) the Indy/Guardian tell you what to think?

      People buy the paper which reflects their own views.
      Newspaper editors respond to those people.

      You may disapprove of those views, but no-one is forcing them on people from above.

    6. soru — on 11th October, 2007 at 5:45 pm  

      ‘People buy the paper which reflects their own views.
      Newspaper editors respond to those people.’

      If that was the case, the world would be a measurably different place than what it is.

      That’s why it is an ideological statement, one that confuses the way you think things _should be_ and the way things _are_.

      ‘Why do you assume that your fellow citizens - unlike you, of course - are incapable of independent thought?’

      What possible kind of independent thought could decide whether, say:
      - Karen rebels in Burma
      - Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka
      - the Saudi royal family
      - Blackwater security guards
      - the government of Tanzania

      were good or bad things?

      Can you see someone concentrating really really hard and working out, without any external input, the numbers of deaths each group causes and prevents, moral rules they follow and break?

      Or do you think newspaper run market surveys that can tell them ‘positive coverage of President Kikwete will gain us a 0.003% sales increase’, and they simply respond to that data?

      Now, maybe I am wrong, and media owners are never ever knowingly selective in picking the news they cover. If that is the case, what is the problem with the british people collectively owning one TV station?

      Why do you hold your fellow citizens in such contempt that you think they can’t be trusted to fill the role you are happy for Murdoch to perform?

    7. ChrisC — on 11th October, 2007 at 6:03 pm  

      I must be being stupid, but I don’t follow your argument at all.

      I very much doubt whether newspaper owners have any kind of “agenda” with respect to any of the topics you list.

      In any event, media owners have no input into selecting stories or the day-to-day content of newspapers - they are mostly interested in circulation. The Sun makes a lot of money. The Mail makes a lot of money.

      The Indy makes a loss. The Guardian makes a huge loss - only offset by huge profits from Autotrader magazine/website!

      What is the problem with the british people collectively owning one TV station?
      Nothing - if we did collectively own it and it was subject to democratic control and we, as owners, could elect the board of directors.
      But we don’t own it in any meaningful sense - even though we are *forced* to pay for it.

    8. Rumbold — on 11th October, 2007 at 8:50 pm  

      Soru:

      “If that is the case, what is the problem with the british people collectively owning one TV station?”

      Can I sell you my share then? As ChrisC says, we do not actually control what goes on in the BBC. By the way, Murdoch has made his money from somewhere in the media, so the idea that he is somehow immune to commercial pressures is just a bit silly.

    9. soru — on 11th October, 2007 at 9:16 pm  

      Like the right to have the SAS come rescue you if you are kidnapped, it is a non-transferable right, at least short of abandoning UK citizenship.

      Pity, I bet an SAS rescue would sell for loads on e-bay. Then I could sell my voting rights, right to a fair trial, and other things I’m reasonably unlikely to need.

      I think I’ll keep my medical treatment rights, though, they’ll probably come in handy one day.

    10. Sunny — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:03 pm  

      As ChrisC says, we do not actually control what goes on in the BBC.

      Again, a bad argument. It’s a bit like saying because democracy doesn’t work, let’s abandon it. We have much better control over the Beeb than any other mass media org. I know how much they ask others about their programming - it’s immense.

    11. ChrisC — on 12th October, 2007 at 8:50 am  

      “We have much better control over the Beeb than any other mass media org.”

      Do we? In what way?
      How can I exercise that control exactly?
      Electing the board would be a good start.
      *That* would be democratic!

      “I know how much they ask others about their programming - it’s immense.”
      What are you saying?
      That other companies don’t care what their customers think??

      I can’t control the Sun either, of course, but I am not forced to pay for it.

    12. sahil — on 12th October, 2007 at 9:42 am  

      “I can’t control the Sun either, of course, but I am not forced to pay for it.”

      I could argue that you are paying, by the Sun’s impact upon public consciousness. Does the Sun pay for the other externalities it creates e.g. false stories on front page, followed by a one line retraction on page 33 bellow the advert for burger king.

    13. sahil — on 12th October, 2007 at 9:43 am  

      “I can’t control the Sun either, of course, but I am not forced to pay for it.”

      I could argue that you are paying, by the Sun’s impact upon public consciousness. Does the Sun pay for the other externalities it creates e.g. false stories on front page, followed by a one line retraction on page 33 bellow the advert for burger king. Plus what about the fact that little kids have to start seeing porno on the tube??

    14. ChrisC — on 12th October, 2007 at 11:55 am  

      “Plus what about the fact that little kids have to start seeing porno on the tube??”

      Do you mean page 3?
      Little kids will be more than familiar with breasts!

      As for the Sun’s “impact upon public consciousness” I am mad enough to believe the public as a whole are not so stupid.

      What the Sun’s detractors can’t stand is that more people share the Sun’s “worldview” - for want of a more elegant term - than share that of the Guardian, which would no longer be around were it not for the profits of Autotrader.

      PS I am still waiting for Sunny to give me some examples of issues on which the general public are to the left of the BBC!

    15. sahil — on 12th October, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

      “Little kids will be more than familiar with breasts!”

      In a sexualised setting?? Is that acceptable?? Is the public believes it is then why are the majority of Offcom complaints about public decency standards e.g. porn on channel 5 after 9pm.

      “public as a whole are not so stupid.”

      Umm McCann case, check this book its a brialliant read:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Honour_of_Katharina_Blum

      “PS I am still waiting for Sunny to give me some examples of issues on which the general public are to the left of the BBC!”

      Environment and Topgear.

    16. ChrisC — on 12th October, 2007 at 12:32 pm  

      Environment and Topgear.

      hohohohoho (continued for several minutes)

      The BBC is a leading global warming alarmist/cheerleader (as it were) and Topgear (though I can’t stand it myself) is one of the most popular programmes!!

    17. sahil — on 12th October, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

      Err exactly, the public are far more to the left on the environment than top gear. There’s one example.

    18. sonia — on 12th October, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

      [political economy of media and telecommunications] : this is really the whole issue about media and power

    19. chrisc — on 12th October, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

      Eh??

      Toogear is one of the most popular shows.

      I don’t think that counts as evidence that the public is more to the left - surely the reverse?

      I must be misunderstaning you…

    20. ad — on 12th October, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

      The case for keeping an independent BBC

      The licence fee is set by the state. Strange kind of independence.

    21. sahil — on 12th October, 2007 at 5:20 pm  

      ChrisC by your argument then the BBC one’o'clock news is entirely representative of the British public:

      The BBC One O’Clock News is the early afternoon news bulletin from the BBC. Produced by BBC News, the programme is broadcast on BBC One and BBC News 24 every weekday.

      Like the BBC Ten O’Clock News, the programme is presented by a single newsreader; Sophie Raworth on Monday-Thursdays. Normally, Louise Minchin is the relief presenter and presents every Friday.

      The One O’Clock News draws in three millions viewers per bulletin, making it the most watched programme on UK daytime television. The programme is broadcast from N6, the studio for all the national news bulletins.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_One_O’Clock_News

    22. chrisc — on 13th October, 2007 at 11:29 am  

      You can hardly argue that Topgear is in any way representative of the BBC’s overall stance on the environment.

      They are positively wetting themselves over Gore’s Nobel prize, having spent the previous day trying to explain away the inaccuracies in his film!

      The question isn’t whether you can point to a single programme where the public *might* be further left, but whether there is a subject where the public is left of what can clearly be identified as the BBC’s *overall* approach to that subject.

    23. sahil — on 13th October, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

      “The question isn’t whether you can point to a single programme where the public *might* be further left, but whether there is a subject where the public is left of what can clearly be identified as the BBC’s *overall* approach to that subject.”

      I agree that’s trhe crux of the issue. What really constitutes UK’s majority opinion and then whether the BBC license would actually be a voter issue and if it was, maybe parties should use it.



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