Rupert Murdoch’s most loyal editorial
booster in Australia, Terry McCrann, was at it again last week trying
to deny that his boss and Kerry Packer would stand to gain even more
power if Australia’s media ownership laws are deregulated. Indeed, his column on Friday opened as follows:

The claim that John Howard is Kerry Packer and Rupert
Murdoch’s poodle – that he will change media policy to their order and
to their benefit – is not just offensive, but much worse: exactly wrong.

McCrann
goes on to deny the undeniable and even makes a reference to “the fantasy
of former Herald & Weekly Times executives that they were the last
and great bastion of media freedom.”

Surely McCrann could have
been big enough to mention John D’Arcy by name. D’Arcy was the CEO of
the HWT when Murdoch bought it in 1987 and has just produced an
illuminating book, Media Mayhem: Playing With The Big Boys In Media,
which has yet to be mentioned in a News Ltd outlet anywhere. That’s
what you call a conspiracy of silence, because Rupert and his various
lackeys such as McCrann get quite a spray. Try this for size on page
131:

Despite the fact that the bidding was over and most
shareholders had accepted the News Ltd offer for their HWT shares,
there was still continuous criticism from The Age and Fairfax papers. This was mainly led by Terry McCrann in his comments column in TheAge,
where he found reason to doubt the veracity of HWT and Queensland Press
directors and all the decisions they had made. This was ironic, because
an indecently short time later, McCrann became, unquestionably,
Rupert’s greatest editorial supporter in this country.

Why
McCrann even tries to blatantly push the Murdoch line when these sorts
of claims are already circulating is hard to understand. Doesn’t he
realise that every fawning column he writes just further damages his
credibility?

The recent sequence of events was that Murdoch’s Australian boss, John Hartigan, went public in The Australian 10 days ago warning the government not to hurt Foxtel and, lo and behold, The Australiansplashes with the policy backdown five days later.

On the same day that McCrann produced his deluded column, The AFR’s
annual power issue came out declaring Rupert Murdoch to be the second
most powerful person in Australia after John Howard. Influencing media
policy is just one example.

Does McCrann really think that
Howard would dare upset Murdoch after the huge support his papers gave
for the Iraq war and the PM’s re-election last year? Those fawning Murdoch comments in Washington in July were the final piece of evidence any rational analyst needed to conclude that the fix is in.

Can
anyone name another industry which gets to come up with its own
regulations and present them to government? What about the public or
consumer interest, which is often very different from the mogul
interest as represented by McCrann?

Peter Fray

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