A narrow escape: Murdoch’s failure to launch Fox here
Poor Andrew Bolt. Not long ago the right-wing blogger and News Corp columnist was in line to become the Bill O’Reilly of Australian television, leading the way into a Foxified future, assisted by changes to Australia’s media laws. But not anymore. Mike Seccombe reports.
The scenario would have gone like this: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp buys control of Sky News, stacks it with a squad of right-wing opinion-mongers, led by Bolt. Then Australia’s media laws, which have locked Murdoch out of free-to-air television for more than 25 years, are changed by the Turnbull government. Then Lachlan Murdoch and friends buy the struggling Ten Network. Then Sky takes over news production for the network. Then Ten’s news division becomes increasingly like Sky’s, which is to say, more about opinion than fact, like Fox News is in America.
This is not baseless speculation. In December last year, News Corp did take over Sky News, through its parent company, Australian News Channel. And Sky News has indeed been stacked with a long roster of right wing tub-thumpers – many of them with previous Murdoch connections.
In May, the foundering Ten Network was reported to be considering drastic changes under project “Blue Horizon”, which involved outsourcing news to Sky.
And Lachlan Murdoch and his elderly partner, Bruce Gordon, did indeed try to gain control of Ten. They drove it into administration in June. Their plan would have seen the network rid of a lot of its pesky debt and also put the weights on the Turnbull government to hasten the passage of regulatory changes advantageous to big players such as them. Then they would have bought it back from the administrators.
But they screwed it up. The government took longer than they planned to get the media law changes through the senate. They underestimated the hostility of creditors, staff and some minor shareholders. And they were gazumped by the American media giant CBS.
And so Bolt is left on the eighth floor of a Melbourne office building, holed up in a makeshift studio, broadcasting to an audience of almost no one. Guests ring a number to be let in and find their own way in the lift. There is no hair and make-up to speak of, none of the usual trappings of a television studio. This is as close as you can get to pirate radio without being on Mark Latham’s show…
Full story: Murdoch’s failure to launch Fox here (The Saturday Paper)
Images: Wiki Commons; Sky News screenshot Andrew Bolt and commentator Peta Credlin