Will the BBC’s new Director-General be a Murdoch employee or the Murdoch family?
TruePublica Editor: iNews, (owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust which also owns MailonSunday and Mailonline) has reported that Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch is a strong contender for the role of Director-General at the BBC, with Rebekah Brookes another consideration. Clearly, the government is now pressuring the BBC to such an extent that it would even consider applicants such as these.
iNews has tried to sell it like this: “Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch who became a successful television entrepreneur in her own right, has emerged as a surprise candidate to run the BBC. Ms Murdoch, former head of Shine UK, the production company behind Masterchef and Broadchurch, would be seen as an acceptable new Director-General by the BBC’s critics in Downing Street.” Ms Murdoch, who founded Shine (a production company) in 2001 and pocketed £130m when she sold the business to 20th Century Fox a decade later, ticks many of the boxes. Although Downing Street’s dream choice to lead the BBC into a post licence fee future would be a longstanding critic such as Rebekah Brooks, CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, a figure such as Ms Murdoch would prove an acceptable compromise.
The Murdoch family has, over the years, waged a campaign against the BBC being funded by licence fees and so it hardly a compromise between the two.
Rebekah Brooks was deeply involved in the phone-hacking scandal – the illegal practice of intercepting mobile phone messages of celebrities, politicians and other public figures. Two reporters on her watch went to prison for hacking albeit, Brookes herself was not found guilty of phone hacking at her trial in 2014 after numerous arrests and all sorts of allegations and shenanigans. The News of the World subsequently closed down and when Brooks told its staff that the newspaper was being closed down, some reportedly said that all of their jobs had been sacrificed to save hers.
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The Daily Telegraph reported that despite resigning from her position, Brooks remained on the company payroll and continued to receive her salary from News International, having been told by Rupert Murdoch to “travel the world on him for a year.” In September 2015, Brooks was reappointed as CEO of the company, now named News UK.
The iNews does say one thing though that is true. Although the appointment of the new Director-General is supposedly a matter for the BBC Board, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s political enforcer, has privately warned that a “business as usual” successor to Tony Hall, the current Director-General, who has announced he is stepping down in the summer after seven years at the helm, would only hasten the end of the licence fee.
Alan Rusbridger – said – “Downing Street’s dream candidate to run the BBC would be Rebekah Brooks. But they would settle for Elizabeth Murdoch. The age of satire is dead. The argument is, in essence: “Let’s scrap the one model that does deliver high quality and (by and large) trusted journalism – and hand over our national conversation to Rupert Murdoch. Because that’s worked so well in the US.”
Gerry Hassan, writer, academic and commentator said – “It is a statement of intent & declaration of war to even float this ghastly idea.”
After selling Sky News – it appears the Murdochs still want to grab more of the national narrative. Voicing his opposition to the EU, Rupert Murdoch himself once famously said – “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say. When I go to Brussels they take no notice.”
By any standard, if the government were to get either of these two candidates appointed as Director-General, then it would be fair to say – the BBC licence fee would not be worth paying for as its news service would simply be a mouthpiece for a government that continues to show its authoritarian tendencies. But perhaps that is what the government intentioned in the first place.