Rupert Murdoch has largely lost a year-long feud with the BBC after he objected to a series of documentaries that “implied he posed a threat to liberal democracy.”
Murdoch’s News UK company complained that a BBC Two documentary unfairly suggested that the Australian-born media mogul “exercised malicious political influence” through his ownership of the media. He said the BBC program was biased and did not give enough weight to more positive evaluations of Murdoch’s career.
In particular, News UK objected to the lack of coverage of Murdoch’s financial successes in the business world, which could have led viewers to come to a different conclusion about the relative success of his career.
While criticism of Murdoch’s impact on the media industry around the world is common, it is rare for the 90-year-old to raise an objection to such coverage through a formal complaint process.
He now intends to take the relatively rare step of rejecting the BBC’s internal findings and raising the complaint to the external body Ofcom, sparking a confrontation between three of the UK’s largest media forces.
The three-part series, titled The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, first aired in July 2020, but the BBC’s internal editorial complaints unit has just ruled on whether its content met the public broadcaster’s standards.
He dismissed most of News UK’s objections that the documentary was unfair because it gave too much weight to Murdoch’s opponents, gave too much credence to the opinions of people associated with the Hacked Off press regulation campaign, or because the shows They substantially misrepresented the scandal that led to the closure of News of the World.
“Some contributors expressed concern about the nature of Mr. Murdoch’s influence, but it was a matter of personal opinion, which individual contributors had the right to express, and not a basis for inferring an editorial line on the part of the program’s creators.” , said. The BBC investigation concluded.
However, the grievance unit ruled in Murdoch’s favor in one respect. They accepted that the documentary went too far in implying that a series of sensational stories of “squalor” in the Murdoch-owned Sun and News of the World newspapers that exposed the private lives of Tory MPs in the run-up to the elections. general elections of 1997, they were related. to Murdoch’s decision to back Tony Blair’s New Labor. The version of the documentary that is still available on the BBC iPlayer service has been republished to remove this section.
A spokesperson for News UK said that the BBC had allowed an inaccuracy to persist for over a year: “The BBC documentary series lacked the impartiality that the BBC seeks to maintain through its editorial guidelines, and the full response to our complaint is disappointing and unsatisfactory. We will now submit our complaint for independent review by Ofcom. “
The series also had repercussions in other parts of the world. The BBC’s own Australian channel, which airs on Murdoch’s Foxtel network, chose not to broadcast the program but he denied that this was due to his relationship with Murdoch’s business.
Instead, the rights to show the show in Murdoch’s home country were bought by public broadcaster ABC, which, like the BBC, is a frequent target of Murdoch-owned media.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism