News Corporation: Influence / Lobbying

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Influence and Lobbying

News Corporation is of course its own source of influence. Its public relations leverage is enormous and it routinely trades influence for favours from legislators. O'Dwyers PR web site has no record of a public relations company working for News Corporation, although this does not prove that no such contracts exist. As mentioned above however, Murdoch likes to personally enter into long term 'business' relationships with politicians and may not need the help of middlemen.

Murdoch's relations with politicians are apparently deeply cynical. In 1981, while negotiating to buy Times Newspapers, Murdoch told his biographer Thomas Kiernan:

'You tell these bloody politicians whatever they want to hear, and once the deal is done you don't worry about it. They're not going to chase after you later if they suddenly decide what you said wasn't what they wanted to hear. Otherwise they're made to look bad, and they can't abide that. So they just stick their heads up their asses and wait for the blow to pass.'51

Many people have been alarmed at how one man has been able to gain so much power in less than 30 years, and frequently questions are brought up in the House of Commons about how to limit it. In February of this year the House of Lords voted to include new rules into the Competition Bill, the effect of this being to control Murdoch's power to change the prices of his newspapers just to destroy the competition.

Perhaps the most notable occassion of his use of power was prior to acquiring 'The Times' and 'The Sunday Times'. Murdoch’s papers showed support for Mrs Thatcher, this according to Belfield, Hird and Kelly's book, 'Murdoch, The Decline of an Empire', resulted in the takeover not being referred to the Mergers Commission. They say that:

'he was required, however, to guarantee editorial freedom and the security of the editor. Murdoch agreed but privately said the promises were not worth the paper they were written on.'

This was proved soon afterwards as they go on to say that:

'he constantly interfered in the editorial process, and after a year Harry Evans, the editor of The Times, was forced to resign'.52

In 1995 the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, was given a massive advance of $4.5 million by Harper Collins for two books. It then came out that Murdoch had met up with Gingrich to talk about the regulation of News Corporation's television interests. The deal was quickly cancelled by Harper Collins 'lest the wrong conclusions were reached, and Gingrich agreed to write for a much smaller advance'.53

References 51'Citizen Murdoch', Thomas Kiernan, 1986, p.238

52'Murdoch, The Decline of an Empire,' Richard Belfield, Christopher Hird & Sharon Kelly, Macdonald, 1991.

53'A Critical Analysis of Rupert Murdoch's Book Publishing Interests,' Jack S. Churchill, Oxford Brookes University. See: Viewed: 06.05.04