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December 2017
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Murdoch warns Google: it's time to pay

News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has launched a stinging attack on Google and other on-line entities for stealing content.

At a conference of World Media Executives at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Rupert Murdoch has taken aim at search engines like Google as internet parasites.

According to the News Corporation Chairman, the so-called "aggregators" on the internet steal content from tradition media organisations and, he says, the time has come for them to pay for it.

"If we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators - the people in this hall - who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph," he said.


Let's see - "the current movement toward paid-for content" is being generated mostly by News Corporation, which, if I recall correctly, is the corporate media entity largely owned by Mr Murdoch's family. News Corporation also controls large shares of the media markets in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and several other countries, the most notorious branches of which are the Murdoch tabloid newspapers (such as the UK "Sun" and approximately half of the major metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia) and the Fox News cable channel in the United States (commonly nicknamed "Faux News", because of the lack of resemblance between life as reported by their so-called "journalists" and the consensus reality of the majority of human beings). Do I sense perhaps the petulant foot-stampings of an old man who is terrified the global media empire he's spent a lifetime building is being threatened by the content aggregators, who collect into one space not only the Murdoch empire's view of the world, but also all those other views as expressed by people who aren't part of the News Corporation conglomerate?

After all, if people can choose to see multiple pictures of the same event (or multiple views from many different sources) they might just start to realise things aren't the simple black-and-white over-simplifications of Mr Murdoch's beloved format. If people can pick and choose from dozens of news sources in a single page, they might start asking questions about some of the articles from News Limited. Questions like "why is this news?" (for example, why are we being constantly told in the Murdoch press about the private lives of soi-distant "celebrities"; why do we never hear about "causes" without a so-called famous face to attach to them; why are the bedroom games of the British royal family such an all-consuming matter etc) or "why is this such a scandal?" (Famous star comes out as gay; female celebrity gains or loses weight; celebrity couple divorces) or even "why aren't we hearing about X?" (media conglomeration; media gatekeeping; corporate censorship; corporate abuses of power; non-capitalist economic theory; challenges to right-wing prejudices; shall I continue?). The news aggregators offer a view of a bigger picture, rather than the small-minded, small-world images Mr Murdoch wants to keep selling us. They offer a picture of a complex world, one where people aren't just one thing or another, but might be both at the same time, or even something completely different.

The news aggregators threaten Mr Murdoch's livelihood, just by offering a diversity of links to a variety of stories. They take away his control over the shaping of opinion, and threaten his ability to offer up a world where everyone is just like him: white, wealthy, upper-middle class, educated, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, Anglo-Celtic and male. What the news aggregators threaten isn't the rights of people to create content, but rather the assumed right of Mr Murdoch and his social equivalents to dictate how the world looks to the rest of us. They threaten Mr Murdoch's privilege - and how dare they do that?

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