New analysis shows that Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp continue to enjoy huge access to Government, apparently contradicting Ministers’ proclamations that powerful special interests won’t enjoy privileged status under this administration.
Research by the Media Reform Coalition – based in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London - and 38 Degrees suggests that Murdoch’s lobbying of government intensified ahead of the recent government consultation on the Leveson Inquiry and the announcement of Murdoch’s renewed bid to take over Sky.
Between April 2015 and September 2016, senior News Corp executives met with government ministers or their special advisers on 22 separate occasions.
18 involved meetings or gatherings with either the Prime Minister, Chancellor or Culture Secretary, and, out of those, Rupert Murdoch was himself present on at least eight occasions.
The frequency of Murdoch’s encounters with government appear to contradict his recent statement that ‘I have made it a principle all my life never to ask for anything from any prime minister’.
Former chair and founding member of the MRC Professor Des Freedman says:
"Theresa May promised in her very first speech as prime minister that the government she was going to lead 'will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few'.
“This commitment is looking especially hollow when we find out just how easy it is for Rupert Murdoch and his top lobbyists to make the government drop everything and find time to meet with them.
“Theresa May was only in New York for 24 hours in the autumn and she still managed to clear her schedule for a meeting with Murdoch himself - not long before the announcement of a Fox bid to take over Sky.
"A lot of attention is focused on fake news and digital platforms at the moment - but we shouldn't lose track of the power of established media owners to dominate our media landscape and shape our political culture according to their own interests.
And we can't rely on our elected governments to do anything about this abuse of media power when they seem more determined to bow down before it than to confront it."
The research also shows that News Corp met with the Prime Minister or Chancellor – the two most powerful figures in government – more than any other organisation or individual during this period. In the year to September 2016, there were 10 meetings involving Rupert Murdoch or senior executives of News Corp and the PM or Chancellor.
In the same period, the Prime Minister or Chancellor had:
- 6 meetings with BBC senior management
- 4 meetings with Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent and Evening Standard
- 4 meetings with Japanese telecoms giant Softbank
- 3 meetings each with JP Morgan, Siemens, Blackrock, HSBC and the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI)
Read the full MRC press notice here