Plan finds a friend in the `Sun'

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The Independent Culture
IMAGINE THE scene in The Sun's newsroom on Sunday. Reporters have been told to find fans and stars who sup- port BSkyB's bid for Manchester United.

The fans should not have been too hard: there are an estimated four million. The Sun managed to find four fans in favour.

The celebrity trawl did not work out so well. Only the famous football analyst and Radio 1 presenter Zoe Ball came out in favour in an article headlined: "Stars and fans unite to hail Man U super-deal."

It did not take any deep analysis to work out the propaganda role played by Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers. In contrast to every other title yesterday, The Sun and The Times were the only papers not to lead on likely opposition to the deal.

The Sun's front-page headline was unambiguous: "Gold Trafford". The front page of The Times was more sober, although its headline still ignored likely opposition.

However, the sports desk showed less restraint: "A marriage made in heaven for United followers," was the headline above an opinion piece maintaining that United need never again miss out on players like Ronaldo.

The strategy of the Murdoch papers is clear: get United fans on board by promising so much money that they can have every player they ever wanted.

"For United fans to rail against the takeover is like lottery winners covering their ears when Camelot rings," said The Times. "It is for the rest of football to worry."

It is also something for the rest of journalism to worry about.

Paul McCann

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