Corporatism in action: The Osborne/Murdoch BBC stich up
Byline, by Peter Jukes
Chris Bryant MP, shadow minister for culture, challenged Chancellor George Osborne over an alleged secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch in the days before the Treasury imposed a £650m budget cut on the BBC.
If true, this would make 2015 a re-run of the 2010 election when – as recorded amply by the Leveson Inquiry – a back door entrance by Rupert Murdoch to Number 10 was accompanied by a back room deal to limit the budget of the BBC.
As I’ve detailed in my 2012 book, theFall of the House of Murdoch, the plan to shrink the BBC by 30% was part of a four year dance between Cameron, Osborne and James Murdoch, as he vied to cement his succession at News Corp by buying the whole of BSkyB, and amalgamating News International and Sky in a digital hub at a new base in Isleworth.
Called Operation Rubicon, the deal would have sealed the Murdoch family as owners of Britain’s most lucrative TV channel and its biggest newspaper group – a virtually unassailable position in the media landscape. Their only real (non commercial) competition was the free news service provided by the BBC both in broadcast and online.
But in 2010 David Cameron didn’t have a majority. The Coalition with the Liberal Democrats meant the planned BBC cuts were not 30% but 16%. And then the phone hacking scandal and the closure of News of the World derailed the BSkyB bid.