London and Vienna, September 17, 2021
by Edward Steen, Secretary-General
Like the most virulent weed in the journalistic jungle, the Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 90, is seizing the chance to grab the potentially lucrative hate-and-nonsense broadcasting market in the UK.
The moment arrived as the recently-launched GB TV floundered only months after it launched.
The London media took gleeful pleasure at the departure of GB tv’s founder and frontman, Andrew Neil, a clever if abrasive interviewer and writer. It will be less delighted by news of Murdoch’s appointment, reportedly at an eye-watering salary offered to the younger – a mere 56 – but even more uppity Piers Morgan, editor in his 20s of Murdoch’s scandal-hit, now-defunct, News of the World. Morgan is to be the star of Murdoch’s new TV venture News UK, and spread his wings across Murdoch’s media empire around the world.
Murdoch said in a statement: “Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire. Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist, and says what people are thinking and feeling.”
He is also the kind of provocateur who has made Fox News what it is in America today. Will this virus spread further into Europe? Is there any way to resist it?
The excellent independent publication Byline Times has devoted its current issue to the affair, and hosted a remarkable discussion on its own TV show this evening.
The paper warns that Talk TV’s “content is likely to be just as toxic” as GB News “but more competently delivered, which will gobble up what viewers GB News has retained until now”.
Byline Times, written by exiles from the quagmire of an increasingly corrupt UK press, devotes its weekly digital front page to what it calls “the insidious power structures and distorting forces behind Britain’s media and how these are being used to amplify (prime minister) Boris Johnson’s “culture war”.
Co-founded in 2018 by writer Peter Jukes, who says he was “wrenched out of fiction by the fierce urgency of fact”, Byline Times is an encouraging story of spirited resistance to fake news and media manipulation, and a platform for open discussion of what is really going on. This website will next week examine whether the Byline Times model has a chance of success elsewhere in Europe.