According to papers released by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust, Maggie and Murdoch met for a lunch at Chequers on the 4th January 1981. This was just before Murdoch was confirmed as the new owner of the Times and Sunday Times Newspapers. During this meeting he expressed interest in making the Times a profitable operation with the use of new technology.
When Murdoch made a bid for The Times he already owned The Sun and News of the World, meaning with The Times he would be on his way to Monopolising the Press and bring his one step closer to becoming the media mogul he is today. There was a commission in place, to prevent one organisation having too much control over the media, however the file suggests this was not even a consideration during the meeting. The Fair Trading Act of 1973 calls for each significant newspaper take over to be submitted to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission unless the State Secretary agreed the newspaper was at risk of closing down and was unprofitable. During this time, The Times had suffered several losses, meaning the takeover could go ahead without a referral from the MMC.
The deal made quickly because ministers feared that the newspaper would closed if a sale was not made quickly. This set a precedent because people now know how they are able to go ahead with media takeovers without approval of the MMC.
Andy McSmith said on the matter: “No British politician did more than Mrs Thatcher to help the rich get richer, and yet all along she privately believes that money does not make anyone happy – except Rupert Murdoch, presumably.”
Over the last thirty years Rupert Murdoch has gone onto add plenty more companies to his media portfolio, including 20th Century Fox, The Wall Street Journal, LA Dodgers, Harper Collins, Dow Jones, IGN and BskyB.
Do you believe that the present media ownership laws properly safeguard the interest of the general public? I don’t understand how we can have fair, unbiased articles and stories brought to us all under one man’s influence. If the media is monopolised in such a way it means the general public are all subjected to only one opinion and although it may seem a bit extreme to label it as Brainwashing, in some ways that is exactly what it is. Murdoch’s empire covers so many bases, his organisation’s influence is coming at us from so many different angles, it would be in the interests of the general public to some how restrict his influence. Politicians should not be allowed to hold confidential meetings with publishers! I believe that rather than waiting 30 years to uncover all the sly things our prime ministers get up to we should know about them in real time.
Will we ever be able to contain Murdoch’s power? What can be done to tighten up Media Ownership Laws?