Turner Calls Rival Media Mogul Murdoch 'Warmonger'

Friday, 25 April 2003 03:22 by: Anonymous

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BBC Director General Strikes Out At US Media
Matt Wells
The 0aGuardian

Friday 25 April 2003

The BBC director general, Greg Dyke, yesterday laid out the case for the 0aimpartiality of broadcast news in Britain as against the "unquestioning" 0aattitude of US networks, and warned the government not to allow the "Americanisation" of the British media.
In characteristically blunt fashion, 0aMr Dyke said he was surprised at the "committed political position" of Rupert 0aMurdoch's Fox News Channel, and "shocked" to discover that the biggest radio 0agroup in the US was using its stations to organise pro-war rallies.

He urged the government to think carefully about its proposals to liberalise 0amedia ownership laws in Britain. "We must ensure that we don't become 0aAmericanised," he said in a speech at Goldsmith's College in London yesterday.

Mr Dyke directed much of his ammunition against the global media giant Clear 0aChannel, which owns 1,225 radio stations in the US, many of which took a 0astaunchly pro-war line.

"We are genuinely shocked when we discover that the largest radio group in 0athe United States was using its airwaves to organise pro-war rallies," said Mr 0aDyke, who is also the BBC's editor-in-chief. "We are even more shocked to 0adiscover that the same group wants to become a big radio player in the UK."

In the communications bill currently going through the House of Lords, the 0agovernment plans to deregulate ownership laws, allowing foreign companies like 0aClear Channel to own commercial radio licences in Britain.

Clear Channel is known for syndicating much of its output between its 0astations, and concerns have been raised about the threat to diversity.

Mr Dyke warned that deregulation also raised questions about impartiality: 0asince the September 11 attacks, a gap had opened up between the definitions of 0aimpartiality on either side of the Atlantic.

"Maybe it was always like this and the requirements of impartiality in the UK 0awere always different to those in the USA, but that's not how I remember it," he 0asaid. "Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning 0athe broadcast news media was during this war."

He criticised Fox News for its pro-Bush stance, which has helped it overtake 0aCNN as the most popular news network in the US.

"Commercial pressures may tempt others to follow the Fox News formula of 0agung-ho patriotism, but for the BBC this would be a terrible mistake. If, over 0atime, we lost the trust of our audiences, there is no point in the BBC," said Mr 0aDyke.

He speculated that the patriotism of the US networks had been driven by the 0afragmentation of the US media.

"Many of the large television news organisations in the States are no longer 0aprofitable or confident of their future. The effect of this fragmentation is to 0amake government - the White House and the Pentagon - all-powerful, with no news 0aoperation strong enough or brave enough to stand up against it.

Mr Dyke rejected accusations that the BBC, which has spent between 7m and 8m on the war, had been soft on Saddam Hussein, insisting the corporation's 0acommitment to "independence and impartiality" was "absolute." He said it was "absurd" to suggest journalists in Baghdad were "Saddam's stooges", and singled 0aout correspondents Andrew Gilligan, Rageh Omaar and John Simpson for having 0abrought home the "reality" of war.

"Governments have as much right as anyone else to put pressure on the BBC," 0ahe said. "It's only a problem if the BBC caves in."

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Turner Calls Rival Media Mogul Murdoch 'Warmonger'
By Duncan 0aMartell

Friday 25 April 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - Ted Turner said on Thursday too few people owned too many 0amedia organizations and called rival media baron Rupert Murdoch a warmonger for 0awhat he said was Murdoch's promotion of the U.S. war in Iraq.

"He's a warmonger," Turner said in an evening speech to the Commonwealth Club 0ain San Francisco of Murdoch, whose News Corp. Ltd. owns the fast-growing Fox 0aNews Channel. "He promoted it."

Fox News Channel has been the most popular U.S. cable news network during the 0aconflict, trumping AOL Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which Turner started more than 0atwo decades ago and came to prominence with its blanket coverage of the 1991 0aGulf War.

Asked by an audience member for his thoughts on Fox's larger ratings share 0athan CNN's, Turner said, "Just because your ratings are bigger doesn't mean 0ayou're better."

"It's not how big you are, it's how good you are that really counts," Turner 0asaid, drawing hoots from the audience.

Turner, who has pledged to give $1 billion to the United Nations and is a 0avocal proponent of population control and nuclear-arms elimination, criticized 0athe concentration of ownership of the vast majority of U.S. television networks, 0aradio and TV stations and newspapers in a few corporations.

"The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much," Turner said.

Asked whether he would again try to launch a new network, Turner, who is the 0avice chairman of AOL Time Warner and has been critical of the merger of AOL and 0aTimeWarner, said: "No. I think the space is filled with the people already 0athere.


"There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see 0aand hear. It's not healthy."

Earlier on Thursday, BBC Director General Greg Dyke said U.S. broadcasters' 0acoverage of the Iraq war was so unquestioningly patriotic and so lacking in 0aimpartiality that it threatened the credibility of America's electronic media.

Dyke singled out for criticism Fox News Channel and Clear Channel 0aCommunications Inc., the largest operator of radio stations in the United 0aStates.

"Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning 0athe broadcast news media was during this war," Dyke said in a speech at a 0aUniversity of London conference.

After Turner's initial remarks, the moderator for the question and answer 0asession noted that Turner would not be able to comment on the ongoing federal 0ainvestigations into AOL Time Warner.

The moderator had scarcely finished her statement when he leaned into the 0amicrophone and said: "I can say one thing. As the largest shareholder and the 0abiggest shareholder (of the company), it's been brutal."

Turner said he also liked bison.

"I got 35,000 of them," Turner said in response to a question about bison. "I 0ado eat them. You've got to eat."

The final question of the evening to Turner: What will be his epitaph.

"I have nothing more to say," Turner said. "And that's what it is."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is 0adistributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in 0areceiving the included information for research and educational 0apurposes.)

Last modified on Monday, 21 April 2008 13:38