Let’s take a look at this watchdog called Ofcom.
In May of this year, it was mainly engaged in clearing Menopausal Man Jeremy Clarkson of some sort of ism to do with comparing an ugly Japanese Camper Van hybrid to Joseph Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, saying that the car looked like something you would not talk to at a party. Co-presenter Richard Hammond called it the elephant car. Shock horror. We are appalled. But less so, it seems, by James ‘Gay Robot’ Murdoch. Murdoch Jr spouted hour after hour of mendacious, evasive, slippery corporate jargon as a means of foxing Ofcom, and this was enough for them to decide that
“In our view, the evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to find that James Murdoch knew of widespread wrongdoing or criminality at NoTW…”
Why did Ofcom produce this anodyne whitewash? Cast your cynical minds back to the story of earlier this week in relation to the still unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan. And then review some of the main players in this game:
Ed Richards is the Chief Executive of Ofcom, appointed in October 2006. Previously, he was the Senior Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair for Media affairs. During the period that Blair was still actively in bed with Murdoch.
Another key figure at Ofcom is Colette Bowe. She joined at the start of 2008, and is now its Chairman….having been strongly pushed forward for the role by Peter (now ‘Lord’) Mandelson. At the time Mandy was still very close to Newscorp, and pushing the ‘plurality’ line hard. Bowe and Mandelson are personal friends, and on securing her appointment, Mandelson said “The communications industries have huge significance for our economy during these challenging times, and Colette’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable at Ofcom in helping deliver greater choice and innovation across the sector.” Bowe was, many observers accept, a person who would look kindly upon both him and Newscorp.
Norman Blackwell was appointed to the Ofcom Board on 1 September 2009 for an initial 3 year term. Lord Blackwell, a Conservative peer, is currently Chairman of the Board at Interserve plc, which has contracts totalling £1 billion with the NHS. On 7th September 2012, The NHS Trusts of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland chose Interserve to take on the seven-year contract, under which it will provide support services totalling £300m. Newscorp admirer and friend of James Murdoch Jeremy Hunt is the new Secretary of State for Health.
Stuart McIntosh is the Competition Director at Ofcom. He therefore dealt personally with Newscorp Drum majorette Jeremy Hunt whenever he intervened in Ofcom business to insist on plurality – Mr Hunt’s euphemism of choice for promoting the interests of Newscorp. On March 2nd 2011, McIntosh highlighted concerns that the BBC’s proposed streaming syndication policy was anti-competitive, and wrote a letter saying as much to the BBC Trust. The company shut out of carrying a version of the BBC iPlayer was Sky.
There is no suggestion at all here that anything improper has taken place as such. But all of the above characters are open to the observation that they are extremely unlikely to be boat-rockers. By any objective standards, when it comes to ruling upon the existence or not of a culture of management criminality at Newscorp in the UK, these are people who were around when Iraq invasions were being planned, around when PFI spends were being shoved off-balance sheet, heavily committed to good relations with the Department for Health, championed by Newscorp bedfellows, and fully conversant with Jeremy Hunt’s management style.
Independent they aren’t, and so cultural criminality they did not find. The senior people at Newscorp would be enormously grateful for that…for several reasons – as we shall no doubt see anon.