David Prosser: What Rupert wants, he usually gets
Thursday 01 October 2009
Outlook Too little, too late. Ofcom said this week that David Cameron's little faux pas on Absolute Radio this summer – the Conservative Party leader swore twice during a live show – did not constitute a breach of broadcasting rules. But the regulator's leniency will not persuade Mr Cameron to remove it from his crosshairs – the Tories have already singled out Ofcom for the axe should they win the election.
Mr Cameron's new best friend, Rupert Murdoch, must be delighted. The regulator spends much of its time meddling with the broadcasting industry – most notably in recent months, it has told Mr Murdoch's Sky that it must sell on some of its premium sports content, particularly Premier League football, to rivals such as BT at affordable prices.
Are you beginning to smell a rat? Well, how's this for a coincidence of timing? Mr Cameron's plans for Ofcom were announced just 10 days after the regulator handed down its ruling against Sky. More cynical observers of the worlds of politics and big business might conclude that in delivering The Sun's support for Mr Cameron yesterday, Mr Murdoch was repaying a favour.
Such conspiracy theories often prove nothing more than good fun, of course, and Ofcom has plenty of critics. Ed Richards, now the regulator's chief executive, who in effect invented Ofcom while working as an adviser to Tony Blair, is far from universally popular.
Still, Mr Murdoch's enemies could be forgiven a little shudder. Indeed, for those BBC staff working on the broadcaster's web operations – which are driving Mr Murdoch potty as he searches for a way to make his online businesses pay – the Tories' treatment of Ofcom may just be a taste of things to come.
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