Why does Rupert Murdoch's PR want to feed me with social tittle- tattle over bacon butties in Wapping but provide no opportunity to question the man about his global empire?

My heart skipped a few beats towards the end of last week when a fax landed on my desk from Rupert Murdoch's News International plc.

It was from Jane Reed, the company's director of corporate affairs, who felt moved to respond to my column last week with these words: "You have been writing about Rupert Murdoch with, as far as I know, little first- hand knowledge of the man and his business for some time now."

First-hand knowledge of the man and his business? That surely could mean only one thing. Ms Reed was going to line up an exclusive, extensive interview with her boss the next time he's in town. Or maybe she was even going to fly me over to the 20th Century-Fox lot in Beverly Hills to meet the Australian-American magnate in the hub of his global media empire ...

Er, no, not quite. All Ms Reed was proposing was that we - she and I, not Rupert - should meet up at Wapping in the near future, say for breakfast, "so that I can give you some background that might assist you".

Now, I never like to appear rude or anti-social, but I fail to see how sharing tea and bacon butties with NI's top PR in a converted tobacco warehouse in east London is going to give me "first-hand knowledge" of Rupert Murdoch.

Mind you, Ms Reed obviously does pull a few strokes for her master. Rather interestingly, in a follow-up phone call about the aforementioned fax, she revealed that it was she who tipped off the Londoner's Diary in the Evening Standard about Murdoch's recent supper with William Hague. So it was not a "secret" dinner, as the Standard and yours truly had reported.

Obviously not. But this little revelation does prompt a few interesting questions. Why does NI's director of corporate affairs feel that the public should be fed tittle-tattle about Rupert Murdoch's London social engagements but should have no opportunity to question the man whose company accounts for 40 per cent of national newspaper sales in the UK and whose satellite network BSkyB is threatening to dominate the digital revolution in this country?

Of course, Rupert Murdoch is not alone in dodging the sort of critical scrutiny to which journalists on his payroll merrily subject thousands of other people every day of their working lives. Compared to the reclusive, ultra-secretive Barclay brothers (proprietors of The European and The Scotsman), Murdoch is high-profile and fairly accessible.

The Dirty Digger did grant a telephone interview last month to the New Yorker magazine, during which he dismissed talks of deals with Tony Blair as "paranoid rubbish". "We just thought it would be a good thing, at this time, for Britain to have a change," he told John Cassidy. "I may have misjudged him, but I take Tony Blair at his word. I think he is a well- intentioned, decent man ... a very impressive human being."

Gee, shucks. But such schmaltzy talk makes little impact on Murdoch's great rival among American media moguls, Ted Turner, who last week publicly challenged him to a boxing match. "It's a great idea," declared the founder of CNN. "One 58-year-old against one 66-year-old. We'll put it on pay- per-view and charge $4.95 ... the lowest-priced fight anyone has ever put on."

Turner went on: "Maybe we'll make it that the loser will leave the country. Murdoch is chicken. He won't do this, even if he can wear headgear and I don't."

Yes, Murdoch is as unlikely to take up Turner's challenge to step into the ring as he is to face a public cross-examination in this country about his dominance of the media and his dabblings in the British political process. For, as the professor of the science of government at Harvard University has explained in a standard work, "The architects of power must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight, it begins to evaporate."

That passage is quoted by Noam Chomsky in his contribution to the excellent 25th anniversary edition of Index on Censorship, a journal which has broadened its focus in recent years from persecution of journalists, writers and publishers to comment critically upon questions of media ownership and access to the press and broadcasting.

Defenders of pluralism and diversity in the media often feel that they are fighting a losing battle, but - in a rare display of optimism of the intellect - Chomsky implores us to stay positive: "There are no mysterious `laws' or `uncontrollable market forces' that we must silently obey, only decisions within human institutions that are subject to will and choice, as they have always been."

The rise of Rupert Murdoch's media empire is plainly not unstoppable, as we were reminded last week when commercial television's watchdog, the ITC, bared its teeth and expressed concern about BSkyB's involvement in BDB, one of the consortia bidding for digital terrestrial TV licences in this country. The report in the FT instantly wiped pounds 800m off the satellite giant's share value.

So, those of us who write critically about Rupert Murdoch on a regular basis and raise questions about his increasing domination of both the press and broadcasting in Britain are clearly having some effect. Which is perhaps why his PR flunkies at Wapping are now setting out the breakfast table

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect