|'Big Brother' of the Silver Screen Tightens His Grip||Jeffrey Turner on the media monopoly|
Back in November, when the British public was getting excited over the latest football scores or the current gossip concerning the Spice Girls, a new and important move was taking place in the circles of those who have the real power over our lives. Two of Britain's largest media companies agreed on a merger plan that will create an international media giant.
The two were the United News & Media group, headed by left-wing Labour peer Michael Hollick, and Zionist Michael Green's Carlton Television. In the future the two will work together "on a Hollywood scale," said Green.
In The Express newspaper, part of the United News & Media conglomerate, the news was greeted, as might have been predicted, with great satisfaction. In a report by Ben Summerskill, it was stated that the new company "will become ITV's largest broadcaster, reaching 37 million people in 15 million homes."
Lord Hollick said, upon the announcement of the merger, that it was "a matter of pride" that the new company would be a media player on the international stage. He said: "I have never wanted our media industry to go the way of investment banking - owned over there, operated over here."
City analysts predicted that the merged company, which will own 50 per cent of ONdigital, would also now be able to out-muscle digital rival Sky. ONdigital already has 400,000 subscribers.
According to Summerskill, the merger trend will not stop with United News & Media and Carlton:-
Mr. Summerskill's prediction that the legislation needed to sanction this even bigger merger is "increasingly likely" begs the question of whether he knows something the rest of us don't know. Is he saying that these TV companies, in their bid for yet greater monopoly, have it all sown up - that is to say so confident of having the politicians in their pockets - that the matter is a mere formality?
Lord Hollick's reference to the new company being "a media player on the international stage" might seem like good news until we sit down for a moment and think seriously about it. The whole idea put across in support of these giant mergers rests on the assumption that the communications media are like any other industry - motors, aerospace, computer software, etc. - needing to be really big to compete in world markets and therefore a national blessing in as much as they give UK-based companies the resources needed for them to survive against foreign competition.
But the communications media are not like other industries. Their chief purpose is not economic or commercial, and their power and success in world markets are very secondary from the standpoint of the national good. Much more important is the content of the material they put across.
Considering their power over millions of minds, the fact that empires like United News & Media and Carlton, likely to be followed by Granada, are building such monopolies is something that should fill us with the direst foreboding.
Thank goodness for the Internet!